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Weather:



193-river-country-willow-creek

With Aunt Donelda in town for Will's birthday, we took advantage of the great weather and all went to Muskogee's River Country water park.

194-river-country-willow-creek

We spent most of our time on the Willow Creek lazy river.

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But, we also ventured out to the Whoop'n Holler Hollow water slides...

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...the Crawdad Corner water playground...

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...and even the Gator Walk obstacle course.

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But, we only got the camera out for the lazy river ride.

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We all had a great time in the sun and water.

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We broke for a little lunch at Bait Shop and then got right back to it.

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The boys really enjoyed spending the day with Aunt Donelda.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Jan 25 2014

Tulsa Golden Driller

019-tulsa-golden-driller-statue

Landon, Drew and Will in front of Tulsa's best known landmark the Golden Driller statue. The 76 feet tall concrete and plaster statue is the world's largest free-standing statue and the fourth overall tallest statue in the United States. In 1979, the Oklahoma Legislature declared the Golden Driller to be the official state monument of Oklahoma.

The inscription at the base of the Golden Driller reads:

The Golden Driller,
a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition. Dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God's abundance a better life for mankind.

The golden Driller's stats are:
          Weight - 43,500 lbs
          Height - 76 feet
          Belt size - 48 ft in circumference
          Shoe size- 393DDD
          Hat size - 112 hard hat

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

944-rhema-christmas-lights

After dinner at Funnruckers, we all went to Rhema to see their Christmas lights. The boys on the bridge which lights up in sync with Christmas music playing over speakers.

945-boys-at-rhema

The two million lights make a great background for photos.

946-mama-and-boys-at-rhema

Mama joined in for a photo with lights reflecting off a small pool in the background.

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Drew...

948-will-at-rhema

...Will...

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...and Landon.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

916-broken-arrow-historical-society-museum

As part of Drew and Will's scouting activities, we all visited the Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum.

917-scouts-christmas-tree

For some time, the scouts have been working on a variety of hand-crafted Christmas ornaments. They all worked together to decorate a Christmas tree with the ornaments. Drew, Landon and Will are standing by their pack's tree.

918-scouts-christmas-tree

Two more scouts in the pack join in to proudly stand by the Christmas tree they worked hard to decorate.

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The pack's beautiful Christmas tree.

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The museum collected trees decorated and donated by various groups which will then be donated to needy families who otherwise wouldn't know the joy of a Christmas tree for Christmas.

921-childers-family-log-cabin

After checking out their tree, the boys toured the museum the highlight of which is the Childers family log cabin which was their home from 1861 to 1948.

922-old-dental-office

An older dental office...makes you appreciate modern dentistry.

923-first-national-bank

Equipment and materials previously used by the First National Bank of Broken Arrow.

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Everyone enjoyed their afternoon at the Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum and may have even accidentally learned something along the way.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Oct 20 2013

Vacation GPS Map

858-gps-cruise-ship-route

On our recent cruise ship vacation aboard the Disney Wonder, I took photos using my Canon 5D Mark III along with Canon's GP-E2 GPS Receiver. The results turned out exactly as I had hoped as evidenced by this screen capture from Canon's mapping utility. Our voyage from Galveston, Texas, to Key West, Florida, to Disney's Castaway Cay to Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas can be clearly seen.

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Zooming in to Paradise Island you can better see individual points such as the photo I took from Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge (Atlantis Bridge) looking toward Festival Place where five cruise ships had parked.

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Zooming in even more you can see the direction the photos were taken is additionally captured by the GPS receiver (along with altitude). For instance, the one in the top right shows the photo of the boys I took on the edge of the water with the Atlantic Ocean in the background.

861-gps-satellite-atlantis-challenge-water-slide

Finally, Canon's Map Utility can also switch to Google Maps view. Here you can see the photo I took of Drew sliding down the Atlantis' Challenger water slide. Adding GPS to photos is a really cool way to enhance the memories they preserve. As GPS becomes more ubiquitous, future generations may no longer have wonder where a photo was taken.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

816-disney-wonder-cruise-ship

We just returned home from the most amazingly incredible eight day and seven night vacation aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship. Along the way we spent a day each in Key West, Florida, Disney's own private island Castaway Cay and Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas. The bow of the Wonder features Donald Duck doing a little touch up painting while his mischievous nephew Huey tries to cut his rope.

817-disney-cast-off-party

As we pulled out of Galveston, Texas, we were treated to a cast off party by Mickey and all of his friends.

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Landon at the bow of the ship where it was surprisingly windy.

819-cabin-balcony

Will and Drew looking over the balcony of our room.

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I got up early to get some photos of something I had never before seen...sunrise over the ocean. It was beautiful!

821-looking-over-the-stern

The boys looking out over the ocean...actually the Gulf of Mexico as Drew is quick to remind us...from the stern of the ship.

822-swimming-in-goofys-pool

The boys enjoying a swim together in Goofy's pool, one of three pools on the ship.

823-top-deck

There was plenty of sun as we were blessed with perfect weather along our entire trip. Although we did get to see a waterspout off in the distance as the captain drove past a small storm one morning.

824-disney-dinner-servers

Our dinner servers followed us around to the various ship's restaurants each evening. They could not have been any more wonderful. They were Gyongyi (who went by Gi-Gi for ease of pronunciation) from Hungary and Dinesh from India. We will never forget their genuine desire to make sure we were always enjoying our dinners and our cruise. They completely spoiled us. The first thing we missed when we got home was Gi-Gi and Dinesh taking care of us.

825-disney-golden-mickeys

In the ship's theater we saw some great shows including this one, the Golden Mickeys. We also got to see Toy Story the Musical, Dreams an Enchanted Classic, Remember the Magic and a remarkably entertaining comedian and ventriloquist Michael Harrison.

826-family-with-golden-mickey

A primary activity during the cruise was getting our picture taken with the Disney characters which resulted in a photo CD with 213 photos. This is one of us on formal night with Golden Mickey.

827-disney-cruise-halloween-party

Since our voyage took place in October, there was a Halloween Bash one evening for which the boys got to dress up and party on deck including parading across the stage while being broadcast on the ship's big screen.

828-highway-1-north-mile-0

Our first port of call was Key West, Florida, where we went on a trolly tour of the island followed by our own walking tour starting with mile 0 of Highway 1 North.

829-hemingway-home-cats-writing-room

Next stop was Ernest Hemingway's Key West home. Descendents of his polydactyl (extra toed) cats still roam the estate. Hemingway's writing room just as he left it located in the second story of the adjacent pool house.

830-southernmost-point

Key West is home to the Southernmost point in the continental United States.

831-key-west-lighthouse

The Key West Lighthouse stands about 86 feet tall. We all climbed the 88 steps to the top for a beautiful view of all of Key West.

832-disney-wonder-cruise-ship

Next up was Disney's private island Castaway Cay where the boys posed with the Disney Wonder in the background before we started the day.

833-castaway-cay-stingrays

Drew, Will and Daddy had an incredible experience feeding and then swimming with stingrays. Fortunately, they all had their stingers removed. Drew and Will proved to be quite the exceptional snorkelers. All their swim lessons really paid off.

834-disney-castaway-cay-

Enjoying the beautiful waters of Castaway Cay.

835-castaway-cay-water-slide

All the boys enjoyed the water slide even Landon who had never before been on such a huge slide. He was quite the little trooper going down it all by himself...again and again! That us up at the top waiving, Will, Drew and Daddy holding Landon.

836-disney-castaway-cay

The boys in their Mickey hats looking out over Castaway Cay. It truly was paradise.

837-disney-wonder-castaway-cay

On our way back to the boat at the end of the day, we found the perfect spot for a photograph with the Disney Wonder in the background.

838-cruise-ships-docked

Our final destination, Nassau, the Bahamas, heading over Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge (Atlantis Bridge) on our way to Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort. Nassau's Festival Place has births for five cruise ships which were all filled up. From left to right, Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas, Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Sky, Disney Wonder, Carnival Fascination and Carnival Fantasy.

839-atlantis-paradise-island-bahamas

The Atlantis Paradise Island Royal Towers with its famous Bridge Suite.

840-atlantis-dolphin-cay

After some play time at the water park, we spent the rest of the morning at Atlantis' Dolphin Cay having some quality time with a dolphin named Sasha. In addition to lots of petting, everyone got to give Sasha hugs, kisses, high-fives and feed her a snack. As you can see, they did a great job of taking pictures and the photo CD was a bargain compared to all the memories it holds.

841-atlantis-current-river-ride

Next up we spent some time on Atlantis' Current River Ride. The boys loved the excitement created by the wave generating machine.

842-atlantis-challenger-water-slide

Drew's favorite water slide was the Challenger. You can just see Drew at the bottom left. Will's favorite was the twisty Jungle Slide which, unfortunately, was not as easily photographed.

843-atlantis-paradise-island-bahamas-ocean

Finally, the boys took a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Without a protective reef like at Castaway Cay, the boys got to experience some real ocean waves. It was a magical vacation that we'll remember forever!

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Oct 5 2013

Tulsa Zoo

749-tulsa-zoo

The boys and Daddy went to the Tulsa Zoo today. It was a little chilly and rainy before we got to the zoo but it turned out to be a beautiful day for us once we arrived.

750-tulsa-zoo-globe

The Tulsa Zoo's famous/infamous globe. I've recently learned that these floating globes can be found all over the country but I haven't heard of another with our interesting little inscription: "the earth is our mother, the sky is our father." When confronted with the zoo's own proclamation that they only "display things that have been proven through the scientific method," zoo officials explain the globe's inscription "adds a Native American flair." Riiight.

751-asian-elephant

An Asian elephant, one of the many endangered species held at the Tulsa Zoo.

752-asian-elephant

Not to anthropomorphize it, but I think this Asian elephant is smiling.

753-monkey-outline

Landon showing that he's not quite up to Chimpanzee size.

(Yeah, I named this and the next two photos "monkey-outline." I know, I know...chimps are not monkeys. It was late, I was tired, and I just don't want to bother fixing it.)

754-monkey-outline

Will, almost chimp size but a little on the thin side.

755-monkey-outline

Drew, fills the chimp outline well but I'm afraid the boys just don't have the girth to really fit the job.

756-chimpanzees

A chimpanzee family taking it easy by the pool.

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A young chimp taking a rest.

758-riding-a-camel

One of the best photos from our day at the zoo, the boys riding a camel.

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The boys really enjoyed their camel ride. Hump day will take on a whole new meaning now.

760-white-rhinoceros

A beautiful white rhinoceros. I am in awe of rhinos' immense power.

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The same white rhino up close.

762-male-lion

The male lion's beautiful mane.

763-female-lion

The lady lion taking in some shade.

764-snow-leopard-niko

The Tulsa Zoo's young snow leopard Niko born May 10th just about five months ago watching me snap pictures of him.

765-snow-leopard-niko

Niko being playful peeking out from his enclosure.

766-malayan-tiger

An endangered Malayan tiger taking a nap in the sun. He must have been enjoying his nap...he never stopped wagging his tail.

767-sea-lion

A sea lion taking in some rays.

768-flamingo

A flamingo snoozing away balanced on just one leg. What is the evolutionary advantage to sleeping on one leg? There are lots of theories, but scientists aren't sure: to let one leg dry, coincides with half their brain sleeping at a time, conserve energy pumping blood, conserve body heat, camouflage.

769-black-and-white-ruffled-lemur

An endangered black and white ruffled lemur walking on a branch.

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Another lemur sitting in a tree.

771-climbing-wall

We stopped at a climbing wall. While Drew was still putting on his harness, Will went all Spiderman and flew up the wall.

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Drew, not a fan of heights, took a couple of tries but persisted in making it all the way to the top on a little harder course.

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Two reticulated giraffes.

774-aldabra-tortoise

An aldabra giant tortoise.

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Close up of an aldabra giant tortoise.

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Landon says that the turtle is his favorite animal.

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An American black bear.

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The boys taking a rest as we get close to finishing up our day at the Tulsa Zoo.

779-red-kangaroo

A red kangaroo which couldn't look more relaxed.

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An endangered golden headed tamarin.

781-jaguar

An endangered jaguar checking out the boys.

782-jaguar

The jaguar was very cooperative with photographers taking a number of laps around its enclosure before laying down for a nap.

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I believe this is the mama that had two cubs, Chac and Kabah, last year.

784-jaguar

The jaguar has such an amazing coat.

785-brown-bear

A brown bear surveying his surroundings before...

786-brown-bear

...putting his head down for a rest.

787-brown-bear

Something peaked this brown bear's interest.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

628-mayor-doug-buller

After our visit to the farm, we took a second to pose with our cousin and Mayor of Goltry, Oklahoma, Doug Buller.

629-posing-with-mayor-of-goltry

Aunt Donelda and me with Mayor Buller in front of our grandparents' old, but still running strong, 1970s Ford LTD.

630-goltry-oklahoma-water-tower

Thanks to the federal government's economic stimulus spending, Goltry got a brand new water tower.

631-main-street-goltry-oklahoma

The view down Main Street of Goltry, Oklahoma. As of the 2000 census the town had a population of 268 which dropped to 249 by the 2010 census.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Oct 11 2012

Barnsdall, Oklahoma

964-barnsdall-oklahoma.jpg

Work took me through Barnsdall, Oklahoma, today. The town considers itself the former home of Anita Bryant who was born there and Clark Gable who lived there a short while in his youth.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

948-osage-county-courthouse.jpg

Today work took me to the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. I'm not aware of another courthouse in Oklahoma that is so literally at the top of a hill like this one. Courthouses from my experience are either the center of the old town square or, most commonly it seems, one street back from the town's main street.

949-osage-county-courthouse-view.jpg

The view looking out over Pawhuska from the Osage County Courthouse.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

662-four-seasons-balcony.jpg

Thanks to my awesome employer (and a little hard work on my part), we all got to enjoy five all expense paid days at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. (That's the long official name.) We had a huge corner room with a balcony looking over the golf course and downtown Dallas.

663-four-seasons-dallas-golf-course.jpg

One of the holes of the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas 18-hole par-70 golf course and home of the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

664-dallas-skyline.jpg

The end of the driving range capped off with the Dallas skyline.

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A portion of the Four Seasons' main resort pool.

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Drew, Will and Landon on the way to swim on our first full day at the Four Seasons.

667-four-seasons-dallas-pool.jpg

The beautiful and curvy family pool at the Four Seasons Resort and Club.

668-four-seasons-dallas-pool.jpg

The portion of the family pool where we set up camp for the afternoon.

669-landon-lounging.jpg

Landon swam with Mama and me quite a bit but tired out and enjoyed watching his brothers and relaxing in the shade the rest of the afternoon.

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Will also lounged about but did it in the pool's shallow waters.

671-splashing-by-pool.jpg

What fun is sitting beside a pool if you don't splash about.

672-pool-slam-dunk.jpg

Drew made like an Oklahoma City Thunder player and practiced his slam dunks at the pool.

673-pool-slam-dunk.jpg

Two points for Drew!

Thursday morning we had an incredible room service breakfast that we will always remember (a bit of an inside joke, not because anything was wrong with it, rather just the opposite, because it was so...massive). After the pool Thursday, we had an amazing dinner at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse with friends. We then spent Friday at the Dallas World Aquarium and Saturday at the Dallas Zoo, all without missing any too much of my business meetings.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Jun 22 2012

Dallas World Aquarium

732-dallas-world-aquarium.jpg

Today, we visited the Dallas World Aquarium. It was easily one of the best nature destinations we have been to. And, as the following photos shows, it is a photographers paradise. The variety and proximity of the animals is almost unmatched.

733-dallas-aquarium-waterfall.jpg

The Dallas World Aquarium is far more than just an aquarium. The self-guided tour starts at the canopy of a seven story rainforest and features all kinds of animals inhabiting the various levels while you descend. A 40-foot waterfall, trees, and an abundance of plant life create the perfect illusion that you have stepped into the natural habitat of the animals rather than being in the heart of a major city.

734-giant-river-otter.jpg

A Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is checking out the boys. Giant River Otters are the largest of the 13 otter species found throughout the world, reaching lengths near six feet.

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Two Giant River Otters poking their heads of the water to check out to say "Hello" to the boys. It think the one on the right is trying to give a high-five to Will.

736-dallas-world-aquarium.jpg

The boys with the Dallas World Aquarium waterfall behind them.

737-japanese-spider-crab.jpg

Drew and Will in front of some Japanese Spider Crabs (Macrocheira kaempferi). Landon wanted nothing to do with these guys. Japanese Spider Crabs have the greatest leg span of any arthropod. They are known to have grown more than 12 feet from claw to claw. The large body reaches 16 inches and the whole crab can weigh more than 40 pounds. If I wasn't allergic to shellfish, I'd make a joke about needing a whole lot of butter!

738--dallas-world-aquarium-sharks.jpg

Drew and Will sitting in the Dallas World Aquarium 40 foot acrylic shark tunnel. Again, Landon was good observing from a distance. Based on their fin sizes, I believe the top shark is a Blacknose Shark (Carcharhinus acronotus) and the bottom shark is a Brown Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus). Or, I could be totally wrong.

739-watching-flamingos.jpg

The boys checking out the American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber).

Click on "continue reading" for a whole lot more creatures from the Dallas World Aquarium in the approximate order of our tour.

740-tree-kangaroo.jpg

The. Matschie's Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiel) does not have long hind legs that are typical of more commonly known leaping kangaroos. Instead, the Matschie's Tree Kangaroo has hind limbs slightly that are slightly shorter than their powerful forelegs which gives them greater control and balance for climbing and moving through trees.

741-victoria-crowned-pigeon.jpg

Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) is one of three species of crowned pigeons which are the largest members of the pigeon and dove family. The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is named after the longest reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria who was Queen of the United Kingdom for 63 years from 1837 to her death in 1901.

742-pale-faced-saki.jpg.jpg

The monkeys were an absolute delight to watch. This is a Pale-Faced Saki (Pithecia pithecia).

743-pale-faced-saki.jpg

Another Pale-Faced Saki examining his food.

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This Saki has no manners; eating with his mouth open.

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A Pale-Faced Saki on the move with his food.

746-pale-faced-saki-mother-baby.jpg

A mother Pale-Faced Saki carrying her child. Male Sakis have black coats and a white head, while females have a grizzled color coat and a dark face with white stripes descending from each eye.

747-red-handed-tamarin.jpg

This monkey is a Red-Handed Tamarin (Saguinus midas).

748-red-handed-tamarin.jpg

Tamarins normally have twins which are mainly cared for by the father and older siblings and turned over to the mother only to nurse

749-red-handed-tamarin.jpg

Red-Handed Tamarins are exceptional climbers and superb jumpers, able to jump over 60 feet from tree to ground without injury.

750-red-handed-tamarin.jpg

A Tamarin's diet consists of fruit, flowers, insects, frogs, spiders, lizards, and nectar.

751-roseate-spoonbill.jpg

You can't see its characteristic spoon-bill from this angle, but this is a Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja). Like the American Flamingo below, the Roseate Spoonbill's pink color is diet-derived resulting in coloration ranging from pale pink to bright magenta, depending on age and location. Unlike herons, spoonbills fly with their necks outstretched.

752-yellow-crowned-night-heron.jpg

This is a juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) with its flecked gray and white more closely resembling a Black-Crowned Night-Heron. As an adult, this Yellow-Crowned Night Heron will have a black and white crown with a distinctive white stripe below the eye. The rest of its body will be grayish along with red eyes and short yellow legs.

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The Dallas World Aquarium has an amazing variety of toucans. This Northern Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus) is enjoying a berry. Aracaris are unusual for toucans in that they roost socially throughout the year with up to six birds sleeping in the same hole with tails folded over their backs.

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A Green Oropendola (Psarocolius viridis). The pale bill with an orange tip is unique to the Green Oropendola.

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The Pygmy Marmoset (Callithrix pygmaea) is one of the smallest primates and the smallest true monkey weighing only 5 ounces and reaching just 5 to 6 inches in height with a 6 to 8 inch tail.

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A Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus) having a nap in the trees. The Dallas World Aquarium has the only public display of three-toed sloths in the United States.

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An Emperor Tamarin (Saguinus imperator) monkey known for its unique moustache.

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The Emperor Tamarin is named after Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, who reigned from 1888 to 1918.

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The Dallas World Aquarium is the only facility outside of South American to publicly exhibit the Saffron Toucanet (Baillonius bailloni). Its scientific name honors Louis Antoine François Baillon, a French naturalist and collector (1778-1855).

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The Blue-Crowned Motmot (Momotus momota) is a Kingfisher relative which has a remarkable tail resembling the pendulum of a grandfather clock and a bright blue elliptical ring on top of its head.

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The Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) uses its long, downward-curved, bill to probe through the mud for snails, worms, crawfish and small crustaceans.

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This is a Red-Breasted Toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) also known as a Green-billed Toucan. Fortunately, the Red-Breasted Toucan is fairly common and not considered threatened.

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A Bearded Saki (Chiropotes), but not sure which one of the five species.

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The Dallas World Aquarium is home to a pair of Orinoco Crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius), Juancho and Miranda (not sure which one this is) who are parents to over 100 crocodiles of which 55 have been released into their native Capanaparo and Cojedes rivers in Venezuela.

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The conservation efforts of the Dallas World Aquarium are of vital importance as less than 600 Orinoco Crocodiles are believed to exist in the wild.

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A very endangered Orinoco Crocodile eye.

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Due to its popularity for "talking" and "singing" the Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot (Amazona oratrix) went from a population of 700,000 in the mid-1970s to just 7,000 as the result of trappers. Habitat destruction continues to threaten the species although their is hope since they breed well in captivity.

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The Dwarf-Caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) is the smallest living species of crocodile.

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The Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus) is one of three living species of vampire bats, the other two being the Hairy-Legged and the White-Winged Vampire Bats.

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The Common Vampire Bat feeds primarily on the blood of mammals, particularly livestock such as cattle and horses. Heat sensors in the bat's nose detect blood vessels near the surface of the skin of a target. The bat then pierces the animal's skin with its teeth, peels away a small flap, and laps up the blood with its tongue, which has lateral grooves adapted to this purpose. The blood is kept from clotting by an anticoagulant in the bat's saliva. Once a victim has been dined upon, a Vampire Bat will commonly return on consecutive nights, after marking the animal with urine.

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A Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is sometimes called a Monkey Fish because of its ability to jump out of the water and capture prey including birds, bats, and snakes although its diet normally consists of crustaceans, insects, smaller fishes and other animals that float on the water surface.

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The Polka Dot Stingray (Potamotrygon leopoldi) is a freshwater stingray. Like other rays, it gives birth to live young.

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The Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is an endangered species. The manatee is fully adopted to its aquatic lifestyle, as it has no hind limbs.

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Antillean Manatees can grow 9 to 11 feet long and weigh 1,000 to 1,300 pounds.

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This is a Blotchy Anthias (Odontanthias borbonius) which is normally found among rocky reefs in deep waters.

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This is an adult Map Angelfish (Pomacanthus maculosus) which is similar to the darker Arabian Angelfish which also has a yellow "map" on its side. Amazingly, juvenile Map Angelfish appear completely different as they are alternately blue-white and black banded.

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A Lagoon or Picasso Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus aculeatus). I don't know about "Lagoon" but "Picasso" describes this fish perfectly. These Triggerfish live in among coral reefs where they eat just about everything that comes along. They can be aggressive in protecting their territory, even against divers, especially when guarding their eggs. Fortunately, their relative small size makes them much less dangerous than the larger Titan Triggerfish of the same family.

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The Powder Blue Tang or Surgeonfish (Acanthurus leucosternon). It does not change color as it matures like some other Tangs do and, although it eats mostly algae, it is an omnivore.

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A Chameleon (Chamaeleonidae) checking things out. Besides being famous for the ability to change colors, chameleons also have the most distinctive eyes of any reptile. The upper and lower eyelids are joined, leaving only a pinhole large enough for the pupil to see through. Their eyes can rotate and focus independently of each other to observe two different objects simultaneously. This gives Chameleons a full 360-degree arc of vision around their bodies. When prey is located, both eyes can be focused in the same direction resulting in acute depth perception.

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The Madagascar Tomato Frog (Dyscophus guineti) uses its brilliant colors to warn potential predators that it is toxic. When threatened, it can inflate inflate itself, givng the appearance of greater size. A white sticky toxin can be secreted from its cheeks when attacked that gums up the predator's eyes and mouth and which can cause an allergic reaction in humans.

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Black-Footed Penguin or African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is also known as the "Jackass" Penguin for its donkey-like bray but which may be the reason that Black-Footed is preferred over African...gotta be PC!

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The Black-Footed Penguin have lived at the Dallas World Aquarium since 1992. Their home was originally in an indoor display until 1996 when the outdoor lagoon-like Cape of Good Hope exhibit was opened.

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Black-Footed Penguins grow to about 27 inches tall and have pattens of black spots that are unique to every penguin like human fingerprints. They exhibit sexual dimorphism as males are slightly larger and females have slightly larger beaks. Their black and white coloration helps camouflage them in the water with white for predators looking up and black for predators looking down.

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The Eschmeyer's Scorpionfish (Rhinopias eschmeyeri) had a deep, laterally compressed body, with eyes on top of its head. It rids itself of algae and parasites by frequently shedding its outer skin. It rarely swims, instead using its fins to create a rocking motion mimicking floating debris until its pray happens along.

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The Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is the largest octopus. Adults can weigh about 33 pounds and have an arm span up to 14 feet.

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The Giant Pacific Octopus commonly preys upon shrimp, crabs, scallops, abalone, clams, and fish catching its meal with its suckers then crushing it using a tough beak it has immediately inside its mouth. They have been known to feed on small sharks and even a wayward seagull.

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In poking around the web to learn about the Giant Pacific Octopus, I came across a site where you can see its beak and siphon in action...you have to go there and watch the movie! Go...now...you can come back.

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A Blue Tang or Blue Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus), not to be confused with the Atlantic blue tang which are lighter in color. The Blue Tang is popular in aquariums because of its bright color but don't eat them as they may be poisonous. Handling Blue Tangs is likewise dangerous as they extend caudal spines from near the end of their tails when excited which can cause deep wounds when thrashing about. Of course, the most famous Blue Tang is Dory from Finding Nemo.

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A close up of the Blue Tang showing the texture of its skin.

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This is a juvenile Emperor Angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) which I could not identify without the assistance of the fine folks at the Dallas World Aquarium. I was unaware that many Angelfish appear different as juveniles from adults. While juvenile Emperor Angelfish are dark blue with electric blue and white rings, adults have yellow and blue stripes, with black around their eyes.

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Margined Coralfish (Chelmon marginalis) in the family Chaetodontidae or Butterflyfish which look like smaller versions of Angelfish.

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Ribboned Seadragon (Haliichthys taeniophorus) has an elongated body with bony knobs above the eyes and spines on the body ridges. Despite its common name, it is not a true seadragon (which occur only in southern Australia), but rather a member of the pipehorse group of fishes. The Dallas World Aquarium's was the first to breed Ribboned Seadragons in captivity.

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The Sea Apple (Pseudocolochirus violaceus) is a type of sea cucumber. It is a filter-feeder with tube-like feet and tentacles it can bring to its mouth to scrape off captured plankton. When threatened they can release a toxin or even expel their internal organs. They are difficult to keep in aquariums because of they will often starve to death with inadequate plankton found in the filtered water and because they are often harassed by other inhabitants leading to the release of its toxin which can kill some species.

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This is a Blue-Lined Rabbitfish (Siganus doliatus) which has an abundance of other common names: Barred Spinefoot, Pencil-Streaked Rabbitfish, Barred Spanish Mackerel, Scribbled Rabbitfish and Two Barred Rabbitfish.

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Longnose Hawkfish (Oxycirrhites typus) have white body with red striping that runs both horizontally and vertically producing a unique square pattern. They are the only Hawkfish reported to have spawned in captivity.

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The Spectacled Angelfish or Conspicillatus (Chaetodontoplus conspicillatus) has a blue-grey body and a golden face with blue "spectacles" around its eyes. Breeding is complicated by the fact that there are no distinguishing characteristics to differentiate males from females.

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The Weedy Seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) is a marine fish related to the seahorse. They have small leaf-like appendages that provide camouflage and a number of short spines for protection.

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The Dallas World Aquarium had one of the first successful exhibit of Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques) outside of Australia and Japan. It is another marine fish in the family with seahorses. Leafy Seadragons have long leaf-like protrusions all over their bodies which are used solely for camouflage. They propels themselves by transparent pectoral and dorsal fins which work together to very slowly propel it through the water completing the illusion of floating seaweed.

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The Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) is an invertebrate filter-feeder which catches larval brine shrimp and plankton on the fringed, stinging, tentacles surrounding its translucent bell. It is recognized by its four horseshoe-shaped gonads of which two can been seen in the photo.

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The Panamanian Golden Frog (Atelopus zeteki) is critically endangered and may even be extinct in the wild. Endemic to Panama, where it is the national animal, their disappearance is duet to habitat loss, pollution and the fungal infection known as chytridiomycosis. These frogs are unusual in that they communicate by a form of semaphore, waving at rivals and prospective mates, in addition to the sounds more usual among frogs.

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Some sort of Tarantula (Theraphosidae) of which their are over 900 species. No clue which one this little guy/gal is. Spiders generally don't bother me...but Tarantulas...*shudder*.

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The Helmeted Basilisk (Corytophanes cristatus) uses its cryptic color pattern as a defense, usually remaining motionless on a vertical limb. When threatened, it can increase its apparent size by stiffening its legs to raise its body while depressing its head in order to raise its crest and expand its throat fan.

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The entrance to the Dallas World Aquarium's 40 foot shark tunnel.

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Looking up at the easy to distinguish Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis microdon) with its long flat snout edged with pairs of teeth which are used to locate, stun and kill prey.

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I'm not one prone to anthropomorphization, but this Largetooth Sawfish's face sure looks human-like.

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Looking down from above the 400,000 gallon shark tank at a Largetooth Sawfish.

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Bonnethead or Shovelhead Sharks (Sphyrna tiburo) are distinguished from their larger cousins, Hammerhead Sharks, by their narrower head that is more rounded in the front giving it a "shovel" shape.

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A Brown or Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) (I think), I understand the fin size and location distinctions between certain sharks, but putting that information into practice to identify different sharks is a skill that eludes me.

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The underside of a Brown or Sandbar Shark.

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The skin or armor of the Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum alvarezi) is composed of beaded scales that protect the lizard. It is one of two venomous species of lizards, along with the Gila Monster, both of which are native to Mexico. Although the poison of the Mexican Beaded Lizard is extremely painful and recovery may take several weeks, it's not lethal.

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The Barred Owl (Strix varia) is a large typical owl native to North America. It goes by many other names, including Eight Hooter, Rain Owl, Wood Owl, and Striped Owl, but is probably best known as the Hoot Owl based on its call.

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The American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is a highly social bird, living in flocks numbering in the thousands. Females lay a single egg on top of a volcano-shaped nest. Although its population is stable, there are only four secure breeding sites in the wild.

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Most of the American Flamingos' plumage is pink, giving rise to its earlier name of Rosy Flamingo and differentiating adults from the much paler Greater Flamingo. Its wing coverts are red while its primary and secondary flight feathers are black. Its bill is pink and white with a restricted black tip, and its legs are entirely pink.

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The American Flamingos' life expectancy of 40 years is one of the longest in birds. Its call sounds like a goose-like honking.

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The Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) is commonly observed leaping out of the water and has even have been reported jumping into boats. Their tails are longer than other rays and may have 2-6 venomous spines. Mature Spotted Eagle Rays can grow up to 16 feet in length with the largest having a wingspan up to 10 feet and a weight of 500 pounds.

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Jun 7 2012

Beaver, Oklahoma

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Today, work took me to Beaver, Oklahoma: No Man's Land - Everyone's Town.

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The Beaver County Courthouse recently received a significant expansion.

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In the process of expansion, the old "Beaver County Courthouse" name was covered up leaving just the "B" and part of the "E."

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The courthouse has a beautiful old-fashioned street clock which shows the time my day in Beaver ended before my five hour drive home began.

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The ride home was interesting as I passed an insanely long wind turbine blade.

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I gotta think, somehow, they pick a route without any turns.

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I can't even imagine the amount of engineering it takes to design and construct a modern wind turbine blade.

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No idea where the turbine blade was headed but I passed it right before the OU Spirit Wind Farm with its 44 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbine generators which makes enough electricity to serve about 25,000 homes.

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Work today took me to Custer County and its county seat of Arapaho, Oklahoma. The county is named after George Armstrong Custer who was killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn fighting Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians. So, the county/county seat have a yin-yang thing going there.

According to the 2010 census, the town has a population of 796. While this is a lower population than Boise City, the county seat of Cimarron County, it is not the smallest or even the second smallest county seat in Oklahoma: Ellis County's county seat Arnett has a population of 524 and Dewey County's county seat Taloga has a population of just 299.

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On the way to and from the courthouse, I went past the Weatherford Wind Energy Center located in Custer and Washita counties, Oklahoma.

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The 147-megawatts wind farm consists of 98 1.5-megawatt GE turbines that are capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 44,000 homes.

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Each wind turbine is approximately 262 feet tall from the ground to the hub in the center of the blades.

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I had to travel to Boise City, Oklahoma, for work today. Unfortunately, I didn't get to leave town yesterday until the sun started setting. Driving into the sunset on my way to spend the night in Guymon. Boise City is the county seat of Cimarron County the farthest west county in the Oklahoma panhandle. Boise City is farther away from Tulsa than Dallas, Kansas City, Memphis and St. Louis.

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The Cimarron County Courthouse in Boise City, Oklahoma. It stands right smack-dab in the middle of the street in the middle of the town square.

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This is looking down the main street of Boise City from the steps of the courthouse. The "city" has a population of 1,266. The entire county has a population of 2,475 in 1,841 square miles. In comparison, the smaller sized state of Rhode Island has a population of 1,051,302 in 1,545 square miles.

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I'm a sucker for historical markers and this one was at the foot of the courthouse steps.

From September 23 through 27, 1846, the Mormon Battalion crossed the northwestern portion of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The little army's 500-plus volunteers, recruited for the Mexican War, were enlisted near Council Bluffs, Iowa, from among the first company of Mormon pioneers, who were then en-route to the Rocky Mountains.

The Battalion's 2,000 mile journey from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, to San Diego, California, then the longest march by infantry in U.S. military history, traversed for a lengthy distance the Santa Fe Trail. Sixty miles of that famous route passed through the Panhandle. It followed the Cimarron River southwesterly into Oklahoma to the Cimarron Crossing, then west-southwest past Cold Springs into New Mexico at McNees Crossing. Battalion members viewed the Oklahoma Panhandle as part of the "Great American Desert." The challenges of this portion of the march helped forge the Battalion into a disciplined force.

Seriously, a 2000 mile march? Yikes!

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You might notice a theme in this and the next couple of pictures. Think state of Rhode Island with just 2,475 people. And, think what would cause the dust bowl, in addition to a drought. This part of of the state is called no man's land and the plains desert, both for good reason.

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It is perfectly flat with no trees, no bushes...nothing as far as the eye can see.

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There is some irrigated farm land but the majority of the fields are at the mercy of mother nature.

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The scenic highway of Route 412 through outskirts of the Oklahoma panhandle.

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Between Boise City and Guymon is Four Corners, Oklahoma (at the T-intersection of 412 and 95). I've spent the obligatory 5 minutes googling and have absolutely no idea what it's the four corners of.

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Alas, the sun is setting in my rear view mirror somewhere east of Guymon but still in the panhandle...miles to go before I sleep.

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Seriously, who makes idiotic signs like this? Which way is Enid? Do you go by the arrow closest to Enid, or the arrow way far away from Enid? If Enid's arrow is the one on the top left, why not switch the arrow with the name so that both Enid and Oklahoma City are on the left and both arrows are on the right and there would be no confusion as to which arrow goes with which city? Fortunately, I didn't need to the sign to tell me Enid was straight ahead and Oklahoma City was off to the right. Sign fail!

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Drew's cub scout pack visited the Tulsa Historical Society for a scavenger hunt today.

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The Tulsa Historical Society is housed in the Samuel Travis Mansion originally build in 1919 and finally purchased by the Historical Society in 1997 from a developer who had planned to demolish the structure. The right-third of the building was added on to the original symmetrical structure, as well as the triple arches which extend out from the original simply front door.

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The tour guide was excellent with a great command of history as well as an ability to deal with the tour participants when they threw her an unexpected curve.

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We all learned that the term "uppercase" letters originated with typewriters in which there were no dual-function keys operated by a shift key but, rather, all of the capital letters were originally laid out above the "lowercase" letters.

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Drew taking a turn reading the next clue in the scavenger hunt.

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This is a "mobile" phone from the 1970s. I'll bet it held a lot of apps in that big case.

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Our proud new cub scout.

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Jan 27 2012

The Chisholm Trail

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Today's travels took me to Kingfisher, Oklahoma, and the Chisholm Trail. The plaque below the statue reads:

THE CHISHOLM TRAIL

This trade route from southern Texas to Kansas was used to drive an estimated five million head of cattle north to the railroads in Abilene, Kansas from 1867 to 1884.

Named from a man of Scottish-Cherokee descent who built several trading posts in what is now western Oklahoma, Jesse Chisholm wasn't a cattleman at all. He was a trader, guide and interpreter, who spoke over 14 Native American dialects, possessed a natural instinct for direction, and died without ever knowing that the famous trail was named after him.

From astride his hourse, Chisholm directs his reflective gaze towards the Kingfisher portion of the Trail, offering a traditional peace pipe, symbolizing his role as "Ambassador of the Plains."

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We have had an unusually busy Christmas season this year. As a result, we are just now getting around to seeing the Christmas lights at Rhema Bible College which now appears to go by the official name Rhema Bible Training Center.

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Landon enjoyed the lights more this year than last when he was still being wheeled around in his stroller.

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Will taking a break from the Rhema Christmas lights.

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Drew striking a pose to satisfy Daddy's picture request.

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The family taking a quick break. It wasn't as cold as last year and a lot less crowded on New Year's day (the last day the lights are on), than during the Christmas season.

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A water reflection shot.

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Another reflection shot.

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The centerpiece of Rhema's Christmas lights is their lighted bridge.

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I still have never seen a picture (let alone one of mine) which conveys how truly beautiful the display is that they put on each year.

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The lights change color, flash and move along the length of the bridge all synced to Christmas music play over speakers on the bridge.

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It really is quite a phenomenal display.

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This is just a small taste of the infinite varieties of lights the bridge displays.

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Different multi-colored mixes flash and zip along the bridge to the beat of the music.

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Or, single colors are displayed as well such as this red.

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Or, this green which, if you look carefully, appears to be preceded and followed by a mix of colors.

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No trip to the Rhema Christmas lights would be complete without a photograph in front of the American Flag.

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Nov 18 2011

Branson - Extras

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We didn't take in the Branson Hollywood Wax Museum, mostly from a lack of time but also because the boys wouldn't know a fraction of the paraffin celebrities. Regardless, it makes a great photo opportunity with a gigantic King Kong climbing the city skyline atop the museum.

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Inside, there is a two story King Kong that you can pose for photographs in the clutches of his hand. (I snapped this from the outside doorway.)

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Outside the Branson Hollywood Wax Museum is a mini-Mount Rushmore featuring John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin,

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Another exhibit we hope to take in when the boys are a little older is the Titanic Branson. (Unfortunately, in all the hustle and bustle, I never got a picture of the Titanic myself and had to borrow this one from the web.)

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The boys enjoyed their whirlwind tour of Branson and all want to come back to explore the other adventures it has to offer.

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The highlight of our Branson trip was the Andy Williams Christmas Show Saturday night after dinner at the Andy Williams Moon River Grill. Most unfortunately, Andy Williams was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the month and was unable to perform. However, we didn't think of canceling as the show was still conceived and produced by him and would still be incredibly entertaining...which it was!

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The show was emceed by Bob Anderson, the world's greatest singing impressionists. He absolutely nailed impressions of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Neil Diamond and, of course Andy Williams and many others. With absolutely no knowledge to put his performance in context, Drew thought Anderson, "was just talking funny."

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The show was beautifully presented with a Christmas theme tying all the acts together.

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No Christmas show would be complete without Santa Clause making an appearance.

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The Lennon Brothers and Gail Lennon.

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Pasha and Aliona performed several terrific acts including their famous quick change routine which, even when you know it's coming, is still amazing. (This photo would have been a thousand times better just a few second earlier, but I got caught up watching and enjoying the act instead of taking photos.) One of Pasha's acts we knew had a gimmick but couldn't figure out what it was until it was revealed at the end. I won't ruin it by posting here, but it was pretty neat.

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Dean Church is an incredible violinist/fiddler. He played quite a bit in the audience, including right in front of us.

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And, when I say "incredible"...I mean upside down, playing on his butt, incredible!

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The Oh What a Night! Singers performed a number of songs.

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The Lennon Sisters.

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Landon was quick to fall asleep.

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Will joined London shortly into the show.

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Before the show, Drew said he wanted popcorn at the show. Knowing it was a "fancy" show at a nice theater, we told Drew there probably wouldn't be popcorn there. Of course, not ten feet from the end of our isle they were selling all kinds of stuff including popcorn at a table. And, not even $5 a box popcorn. It was like 50 cents a box. How could we turn that down? Drew stayed awake for the whole program and, at the end, said it was the greatest show he's ever seen. I would put it second only to Phantom of the Opera.

The best thing about Branson? Everyone we've talked to says that every show, without exception, is absolutely family friendly and pro-God and country. That's the kind of thing that will keep us coming back for more!

(Not pictured, but also performing that night were The Warnocks and Mike Cathcart.)

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Nov 16 2011

Branson - Go-Karts

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After the Butterfly Palace we all went go-karting at The Track in Branson, Missouri, this past weekend. Drew was big enough to drive himself and Landon was just big enough to ride along as a passenger the same as Will. Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures of Landon riding (the photographers were always riding when he was).

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Mama and Will getting ready to start the race.

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Mama waving and Will relaxing, both with their wind-blown hair. The go-karts were fast!

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With an extra pad against his back, Drew was a demon on wheels.

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Will soon took a hold of the wheel and quickly got a smile on his face that never left.

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Drew was cut-throat, not letting Mama and Will pass.

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The smile of victory...keep your eyes on the road.

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Will, Landon and Drew. We all had a great day go-karting and, as you can see, there was no crowds so no waiting, the ideal conditions for taking in a few laps between events.

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Continuing on with the recap of our weekend in Branson, the Butterfly Palace isn't just about butterflies.

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Upstairs, next to the butterfly aviary is the Great Banyan Tree Adventure where a Banyan Tree filled rainforest is simulated with floor to ceiling bungee cords and a winding trail the children have to follow through the adventure.

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"[T]he bungees simulate aerial roots that grow from the Banyan Tree just like you would encounter in the rainforest." Small size really has it advantages in this adventure. Mama was brave enough to wind her way along the trail the first time through with the boys while Daddy only made it in a few feet.

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The Great Banyan Tree Adventure has a beautiful computer generated tropical pool with all kinds of colorful fish and plants which moves and splashes like real water when you walk through it due to pressure sensitive pads underneath the floor. The boys took advantage of the ceiling projection to make themselves part of a psychedelic display.

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Probably the most fun thing for the boys was the main floor Emerald Forest Mirror Maze. I had never been in a mirror maze before and had pretty low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised how well the mirror maze created the illusion of endless hallways and how you truly had to walk slow so as to not walk into a mirrored wall.

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I count at least four Drews, five Wills and five Landons.

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The mirror maze was so genuinely disorienting that the boys could not tell if they were actually looking at one another or merely looking at a reflection resulting in the hilarious questioning, "Are you the real [Name]?" and corresponding proclamations, "I'm the real [Name]!" It turned out, sometimes the reflection lied!

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Finally, the main floor has a small Living Rainforest Science Center with just enough rainforest creatures to last a small child's attention span. This is a Tiger-Legged Monkey Frog which is pretty dull since you can't see its cool tiger looking legs tucked underneath him.

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They had several types of chameleons.

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A water dragon smiling for the camera. I saved you from images of the giant cockroaches...you're welcome. Finally, in the warmer months, the Butterfly Palace has an outdoor Coconut Tree Climb for the kids, just another reason we need to come back in the future.

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We all spent the weekend in Branson, Missouri. Mary had been there when she was a kid but I had never been before. We all had a terrific time. We drove up Friday night, slept in Saturday and started out our weekend at the Butterfly Palace. Unbeknownst to us, the Butterfly Palace was celebrating their holiday tradition of White Flight. Long story short, they replaced their inventory of multi-colored butterflies with white butterflies...otherwise known as not as photographically colorful. Oh well, we still managed to have a great time and get some amazing photographs.

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Drew, Will and Landon donned their pith helmets and grabbed some magnifying glasses and started examining butterflies.

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First, up a butterfly enjoying some fruit.

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A black and white butterfly spreading his wings for me.

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A butterfly feeding frenzy at the old sugar hole.

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Landon and Will take a break to ride some bugs.

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If you haven't noticed already, the butterfly photos are pretty good, better than a general lens can normally capture. The secret is that I got an early Christmas gift; a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM macro lens. The lens is phenomenal! All of the butterfly pictures were taken hand held. Check out the below 100% crop of this photo.

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You can see his hairs!

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Another guy relaxing on the side of his feeding dish, but check out the 100% crop below.

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Look at the pattern and texture on his wing!

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Finally, check out this guy. Because he was angled almost perfectly perpendicular to me, a larger portion of his body is in focus. Click on the picture to see the fragile little guy in all his 3088 x 2316 glory. Now tell me that's not some incredible detail!

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Our three little adventurers; Will, Landon and Drew.

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A nice shot of a beautiful black and white wing pattern.

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Two butterflies chatting about the day's events over a nice piece of fruit.

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Now this was quite amazing. That is a person dressed as a statue...a living statue. And, given her ability to remain perfectly motionless, apparently someone who does share the same caffeine monkey as myself.

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Mama and her boys with the living statue.

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Just chillin' out on a leaf.

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One last butterfly.

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Mama butterfly and her boys.

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Oct 22 2011

Pumpkin Town 2011

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Today we made our annual visit to Pumpkin Town.

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We always start off with the group pic of the boys before we move on to the fun stuff. No smiles and cooperation...no fun.

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Drew mastered the lifting of the pumpkin last year so, of course, no problem this year.

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This was the first year Will fully lifted his pumpkin off the ground. He was struggling, but he did it.

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Landon is just not yet up to the lifting of the pumpkin challenge.

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I was wrong! He just needed a Landon-sized pumpkin.

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Will was first down the bouncy slide.

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Followed by Drew and his patented method of staying in the center of the slide.

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By far the most fun this year was pumpkin chucking. It was a first for us. We made like Angry Birds and slingshotted mini-pumpkins like crazy towards the target.

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Drew came awfully close to the target a few times.

We had so much fun chucking pumpkins that we went back a second time and took videos of our efforts.

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Landon riding a pony.

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Will wasn't too thrilled that he was riding a girl pony.

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Drew riding his pony.

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Landon navigating the way through the hay bale maze. This way brothers.

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Landon has found the way out.

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It was a great year at Pumpkin Town.

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Oct 14 2011

Devon Tower Tops Out

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Last month, September 21st, the Oklahoma City Devon Tower topped out, meaning that it had reached its peak with the laying of the final steel beam. I was in the city for work today and snapped some quick shots.

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Exterior glass installation will continue through December, after which the cranes will come down. The interior is already being completed on some floors getting ready for the first employees to begin moving into the tower in March 2012. Everyone is expected to be moved in by June but construction still won't be fully completed until early 2013.

May. 14, 2011 - Trip to the Devon Tower
Apr. 28, 2011 - Devon Tower Keeps Growing
Nov. 20, 2010 - Devon Tower

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Today the five of us spent an absolutely beautiful day at the Tulsa State Fair.

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Early on we all enjoyed the view from the Sky Ride. Interestingly, this ride which is a permanent fixture of the fairgrounds, had the most "professional" operators.

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Drew and Will riding a rocket ship on the Star Command ride.

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Mama even got in on the act and joined the boys on the Dragon Wagon ride. But, I'm not sure Landon has yet developed a full appreciation for carnival rides.

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Mama and her boys: Lil' bro, Middle child and Big bro.

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Will and Drew got to ride a camel, technically a dromedary or Arabian camel (one hump).

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The boys got to see and learn about a newborn lamb. I still think they should combine the livestock show with A Taste of Tulsa. Come see exotic animals from around the world...and eat them! The children can pet their dinner before they eat it.

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Drew, Will and Landon with a kid (baby goat) and rabbit.

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Daddy, Drew and Will on the Silver Streak ride.

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Finally, the family was patient while Daddy took some ferris wheel pictures before we left. A garbage can had to do as a makeshift base for the camera as I shot a few long exposure shots. I would love to take a tripod to the fair and spend some time shooting the moving rides at night.

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I recently changed offices at work. I think its my fourth or fifth office I've had on two different floors in the last 9 1/2 years with the firm. This one is a keeper...with a beautiful view to the southwest of South Tulsa.

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Today, there was a bit of a storm brewing which created some really glorious clouds.

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The rays of sunlight are actually called crepuscular rays because of their frequent occurrences during crepuscular hours (those around dawn and dusk), when the contrasts between light and dark are the most obvious.

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A measly 400 pixel wide image doesn't begin to capture the true majesty of the spectacle.

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The highlight of our fifth day of vacation and trip to downtown Chicago was a visit to the Sears Tower - Willis Tower Skydeck. This was the view of the Sears Tower shortly after exiting the Metra train station.

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Same photo zoomed in to the top of the Sears Tower.

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Finally, the same photo all the way zoomed in on the Skydeck Ledges which extend 4.3 feet outside the building.

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A clearer photo, taken along our walk, of the Sears Tower Skydeck Ledges. Look closely, you can see people standing on the glass Ledges.

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Looking straight up from the bottom of the Sears Tower. You can just barely make out the Skydeck Ledges.

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Same location but zoomed in on the Skydeck Ledges. Again, you can see the brave soles who are standing outside the building 103 floors up!

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Drew and Will standing in front of...the Willis Tower globe and flags...that name just hurts.

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Getting closer, Daddy and his two oldest boys briefly pause to get our picture taken in front of the Skydeck sign.

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Inside, a display shows the 50 mile, four state, area that can be seen from the Sears Tower Skydeck.

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A nice Chicago skyline picture with the three tallest buildings, left to right, being the John Hancock Center, Trump Tower and the Aon Center/Amoco Building.

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A self-portrait on the Sears Tower Skydeck with the John Hancock Center and Trump Tower in the background.

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The 100 story John Hancock Center was the world's first mixed-use high-rise and was completed in 1970 when it was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City. It has the third highest residence in the world (after the Chicago Trump Tower and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) and is currently the 6th tallest building in the world when simply measured to the highest point (including antenna).

The base contains indoor parking for over 700 cars, followed upward by retail space, office space and floors 45 to 92 containing about 700 condominiums. The John Hancock Center has the fastest elevators in North America traveling at 1,800 feet per minute (20.5 mph) resulting in a ride to the top taking only 40 seconds.

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The 83 story Aon Center, completed in 1973, where my father worked during the 1970s. It was originally the Standard Oil Building and later the Amoco Building before becoming the Aon Center.

For about a year, it was the tallest building in Chicago until the Sears Tower was completed in 1974. It remained behind only the Sears Tower and the World Trade Centers as the world's tallest building when measured in height to the roof until the late 1990s. Until 2007, it was the tallest building in the world without any major antennae or spires. Finally, it remains the world's tallest regular "box-shaped" building.

The building was originally clad in 43,000 slabs of Italian Carrara marble (same as used by Michelangelo in his sculptures) cut thinner than previously attempted in cladding a building. In 1974, just a year after construction, Chicago's harsh winters caused significant cracks and bowing culminating in one of the massive marble slabs falling off and penetrating the roof of the neighboring Prudential Center. Stainless steel straps were added to the panels in an attempt to fix the problem but between 1990 to 1992 all 43,000 one-and-a-half-inch think marble panels were replaced by two-inch-thick Mt. Airy granite panels at a cost of about $80 million...2/3rds of the original $120 million cost of the entire building!

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A view looking east out over Grant Park, Monroe Street Harbor and Lake Michigan. Monroe Harbor is the part of Lake Michigan where I've swam in about a half-dozen Chicago Triathlons.

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Finally, Drew and Will standing on a Ledge at the Willis Tower Skydeck.

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Despite my best efforts to terrify them, Drew and Will weren't the least bit scared to stand outside the Sears Tower 103 floors (1,353 feet) above the ground!

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This is a scan of the photo taken by the Skydeck people with their camera mounted on the ceiling and remotely operated. I strongly recommend anyone going to the Skydeck to take the time and pay for the professional photograph.

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Looking down away from the building.

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Looking down toward the building. I did remember to take a short movie which I may post it if I get the time someday. But, I never thought to take a photo looking up. Also, we had one boy not feeling too well so, although we thought about doing it, we didn't take the time to get in line for two Ledges and take a photo from one to another. It really makes a neat shot. Something for next time when Mama and Landon can come along.

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Landon hadn't been feeling well this week and wasn't up for a long day of travel and sightseeing so he stayed home with Mama while Drew, Will, Aunt Donelda, Miss Sue and I continued with our fifth day of vacation. We'd been closely watching the weather and had planned on going downtown on the clearest day so as to maximize our view pleasure of and from Chicago's tall buildings. Today turned out to be the perfect day weather wise.

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We started our trip off with a commuter train ride, the same one my father took to and from work every day during the 70s. It really is incredibly convenient. You can even take your bike along so that suburbanites can enjoy a ride along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive.

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Will and Drew, two of the three most handsome boys I know, looking forward to their day in Chicago.

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North Western Station, everybody off and let the crowds begin.

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Metra train station in the Citigroup Center formally know as the Ogilvie Transportation Center but better known as the North Western Station. Warning don't take a picture inside lest the owners get their terrorists-have-already-won panties in a wad. Seriously, there simply is no logical, rational, reasonable reason not to allow people to take photographs in 99.9% of the places that restrict it. The Ogilvie Transportation Center gets away with the prohibition because it is within a privately owned building (Citigroup Center) and isn't exclusively public (at least that's what Paul Blart told us after Donelda asked). I have no doubt a Chicago/Illinois court would uphold such idiotic reasoning since they can claim with a straight face the Second Amendment doesn't exist. Don't get me started.

After the jump, a ridiculous number of photos documenting our incredible day in downtown Chicago...and with surprisingly little political commentary!

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Will and Drew pose on the Adams Street bridge on our walk from the train station to our first stop, the Sears Tower. A separate blog post is entirely devoted to our trip to the Sears Tower or, if you must, the Willis Tower.

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Who said Chicago doesn't have wildlife. I caught this Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) as I was looking down at the Chicago River. While common world-wide, it is technically endangered in Illinois.

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After we visited the Sears/Willis Tower observation deck officially called the Skydeck and we ventured out on the glass Ledges, it was time for lunch. And, a trip home to Chicago wouldn't be complete without some authentic Chicago pan pizza. This time we got our fix at Giordano's.

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Now that's a cheese pizza! (This is what happens when Mama doesn't come with us...Daddy sets a bad example.)

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After our awesome lunch, we took a little waking tour of Chicago as we headed to our next destination. This is one of Chicago's famous elevated train tracks.

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The same elevated train track looking down the middle of the road/track.

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Another elevated train track.

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And, again, looking down the middle of the elevated train track/road.

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The Chicago public library Harold Washington Library Center features an acroteria angularia on each corner containing an owl (the Greek symbol of knowledge) perched in foliage.

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A Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) articulated bus. I can't even imagine driving one of these around the city...I'd just go straight and never turn.

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At one point I almost had Drew convinced that pigeons in Chicago will go running if they hear you say "orange sauce." He was hesitant to accept my assertion and tried it out but with no discernible results. He soon declared, "I don't believe you." While Drew got to put a little hypothesis-experiment-conclusion into practice...I was briefly amused while Drew chased pigeons yelling "orange sauce."

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Our destination was the Sante Fe Building which is the home of the Chicago Architecture Foundation and its current exhibit the Chicago Model City, a 320-square-foot model of downtown Chicago. The model city is really incredible and the only up to date scale model of all of downtown Chicago in existence.

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Looking east toward the Sears Tower with the person in the background, you get an an idea of the size and attention to detail that went into creating the models.

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Thanks to Donelda's friend since high school, we had access to the roof of the Santa Fe Building and its incredible views of the Chicago lake front. This is my favorite photo of all I took today (other than ones of my boys).

The 83 story Aon Center, completed in 1973, is where my father worked during the 1970s. It was originally the Standard Oil Building and later changed to the Amoco Building in 1985 when the company changed its name before becoming the Aon Center at the end of 1999.

For about a year, it was the tallest building in Chicago until the Sears Tower was completed in 1974. It remained behind only the Sears Tower and the World Trade Centers as the world's tallest building when measured in height to the roof until the late 1990s. Until 2007, it was the tallest building in the world without any major antennae or spires. Finally, it remains the world's tallest regular "box-shaped" building.

Go ahead, ask me how much I hate that stupid antenna thing sitting on top of it. It was only recently installed in 2009 and is the most vile piece of visual trash ever to sit atop a building.

The building was originally clad in 43,000 slabs of Italian Carrara marble (same as used by Michelangelo in his sculptures) cut thinner than previously attempted in cladding a building. In 1974, just a year after construction, Chicago's harsh winters caused significant cracks and bowing culminating in one of the massive marble slabs falling off and penetrating the roof of the neighboring Prudential Center. Stainless steel straps were added to the panels in an attempt to fix the problem but between 1990 to 1992 all 43,000 one-and-a-half-inch think marble panels were replaced by two-inch-thick Mt. Airy granite panels at a cost of about $80 million...2/3rds of the original $120 million cost of the entire building!

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Millennium Park is a 24.5 acre public park in the northwest section of Grant Park and is behind only Navy Pier as Chicago's number two tourist attraction. On the far left edge you can see the Millennium Monument a limestone peristyle tribute to the individual, corporate and foundation benefactors of Millennium Park. At bottom left is the Crown Fountain with a reflecting pool between two 50 foot translucent towers which intermittently cascade and spout water while playing videos using light-emitting diodes behind the bricks. Just above the fountains is the Cloud Gate ("The Bean") by artist Anish Kapoor consisting of 168 stainless steel plates welded together and polished so as to eliminate any visible seams. The sculpture is three-stories tall and has a 12 foot high archway underneath.

Finally, on the right is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion and Great Lawn. The bandshell stage is framed by large curving plates of stainless steel 130 feet high and is connected to a trellis of interlocking crisscrossing steel pipes that support the sound system which is designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor concert hall. Interestingly, to me, is that even prior to Chicago being incorporated as a city, Grant Park has been protected by legislation that has been affirmed by four Illinois Supreme Court rulings declaring that the park shall be "forever open, clear and free." (This is the reason that all of the concerts in the park are free and the rehearsals are open to the public.) The park has been declared, "public ground forever to remain vacant of buildings." Protectors of the park have successfully sued the city forcing it to remove buildings and structures over the years and preventing it from building new ones. The Crown Fountain and Pritzker Pavilion are in violation of the height restrictions. "How can that be," you ask? The city just calls them "works of art" and exempts them, of course. Remember boys and girls, we are not a nation of laws. The only thing that matters is who you know.

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If you click on this image a large panorama will pop up of the view from the Santa Fe Building looking east out over Grant Park, Monroe Street Harbor and Lake Michigan. Monroe Harbor is the part of Lake Michigan where I've swam in about a half-dozen Chicago Triathlons.

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I leaned out as far as I could over the roof ledge to get a picture of the Santa Fe Building sign.

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On the way down from the roof of the Santa Fe Building we had to take a flight of stairs before we could catch the elevator. Miss Sue pointed out the awesome view down the stairwell.

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From the Santa Fe Building we hoofed it down Michigan Avenue to the Riverside Gardens on Chicago's Riverwalk to catch our boat for a Chicago River Architectural tour. Along the way we passed the Trump International Hotel and Tower, or Trump Tower Chicago or just plain old Trump Tower. The 98 story skyscraper, completed in 2009, tops out at 1,170 feet to the tip of its spire. It was originally designed to be the tallest building in the world but after the 9/11 attacks it was sadly scaled back to avoid making it a target. Meanwhile Arab nations build taller and taller buildings without fear of any idiots flying into them...hmmm.

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The ornate buttresses surrounding the peak of the 36 floor neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, completed in 1925, and home to the Chicago Tribune newspaper and WGN radio station.

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I love this photo of the Wrigley Building with the Michigan Avenue bridge in the foreground. Located at the southern-most point of Chicago's Magnificient Mile and known as the Jewel of the Mile, the Wrigley Building is actually two towers connected by an open walkway at street level and two enclosed walkways at the 3rd and 14th floors. The towers were completed in 1921 and 1924 and were Chicago's first air-conditioned office building.

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The Wrigley Building clock tower features four dials, each 19 feet, 7 inches in diameter. The hour hands measures 6 feet, 4 inches long and the minute hands are 9 feet, 2 inches long.

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The start of our Chicago Architecture Foundation, docent-led architecture cruise on the Chicago River looking west toward the Michigan Avenue bridge and the Trump Tower. Our docent volunteer was absolutely awesome in her knowledge, enthusiasm and presentation.

Unfortunately, Drew and Will were not up for a 90 minute Chicago River boat ride and lecture about the finer points of Chicago architecture. Will said screw it early on and took a nap leaning against Aunt Donelda. Drew who hadn't been feeling very well was in physical and mental pain. So agonizing was the boat ride that he said it was worse than buying pants and, at our house, there's nothing worse than that...until today! For what it's worth...I loved the tour.

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Formally 35 East Wacker Drive but originally known as the Jewelers' Building, completed in 1927 when it was considered the tallest building outside of New York City. It originally had parking on the lower 23 floors with a car lift that facilitated safe transfers for jewelry merchants back in the time of Al Capone. The building has been featured in Batman Begins (2005) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).

The four turrets at the corners of the building weren't originally just for decoration. They were part of the original fire suppression system. Each held a cast iron tank filled with water that would have been used in case of a fire. Now decommissioned, the space at the base of each is used as conference rooms.

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Beneath the top dome of the Jewelers' Building was originally a restaurant called the Stratosphere Lounge. Supposedly, during prohibition it was run by Al Capone as a speakeasy. Today, the space is a showroom for the architect Helmut Jahn.

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Marina City consisting of the two iconic 65 story corncob towers with the lower 19 floors having an exposed spiral parking ramp (valet only) with 896 parking spaces each. Appearing in many television shows and movies, the most famous of which was the movie Hunter (1980) in which Steve McQueen chased a suspect through the parking garage who looses control and drives off the edge into the river.

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A raised bridge along the Chicago River with the Sears Tower in the background. The bridge is actually broken and either stuck or locked up for repairs.

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Another picture of the raised bridge along the Chicago River with the Sears Tower in the background.

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A little Chicago River skyline.

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333 Wacker Drive, of course known as the building where Ferris Bueller's father worked in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).

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The red brick and vine covered 180 North Wacker in the background stands in contrast to the tall steel, glass and granite that surrounds it.

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The art deco Merchandise Mart opened in 1930 when it was the largest building in the world with 4,000,000 square feet of floor space (surpassed by the Pentagon in 1943) and even had its own zip code until 2008.

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The "Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame" is a collection of eight bronze heads on pillars (two seen here) representing "America's outstanding merchants" who stand guard watching over the Merchandise Mart. David Letterman once described them as the "Pez Head Hall of Fame." The heads are of Marshall Field, Edward A. Filene, Julius Rosenwald, George Huntington Hartford, Aaron Montgomery Ward, John Wanamaker, General Robert E. Wood and Frank Winfield Woolworth.

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311 South Wacker Drive is the 7th tallest building in Chicago and the 16th tallest in the United States. Interestingly, it is the tallest building in the world in one category...buildings known by their street address. The 65 story skyscraper was completed in 1990 and is one of the most recognizable buildings in Chicago at night as its crown of a 105-foot tall translucent cylinder and four smaller surrounding cylinders are lit up by 1,852 fluorescent tubes.

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Sometimes I can be a little ADD...oh, look a seagull.

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The Sears/Willis Tower and 311 South Wacker. As you will see in the next image, despite the illusion, they are not similar in size. 311 South Wacker is much closer to the camera in this picture.

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The Sears/Willis Tower and its sister building 311 South Wacker taken from the south looking north.

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Looking east down the Chicago River.

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Legend has it that the 37 floor (503 foot tall) Carbide & Carbon Building, completed in 1929, was designed to resemble a dark green champagne bottle with gold foil. Since 2004 it has been the home of the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago. The building was featured in the movie Wanted (2008) in the scene where Mr. X jumps from one building to another killing everyone in sight only to be killed himself.

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A was lucky enough to catch a seagull diving down for a snack. Exactly what he'd want to eat out of the Chicago River remains undetermined.

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The 70 story Lake Point Tower residential high-rise, completed in 1968, is the only residence and only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive due to a zoning loophole which was exploited by its developer but quickly closed thereafter.

The original plan for the building was to be a four-armed design but was later changed to a three-armed design (120° apart) with the outer walls strategically curved to ensure that the various residents could not see into the other condominiums.

My parents' former neighbor Mr. Penn used to live in the tower and once told us the story of he and his girlfriend who were...umm...taking advantage of the privacy afforded by the building's design and the fact that his high-up condo looked out over Lake Michigan. Not thinking anything of it, his window coverings were wide open. Next thing you know...they were interrupted by a window washer.

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The unique 86 story mixed-use residential skyscraper, Aqua, was completed in 2009 and is the tallest building in the world designed by a woman, Jeanne Gang.

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At the time of completion the 64 story (995 feet tall) Two Prudential Plaza was the world's tallest reinforced concrete building. Its distinctive shape features stacked chevron setbacks on the north and south sides, a pyramidal peak rotated 45°, and an 80 foot spire. The building took inspiration from New York's Chrysler Building and, in my opinion, succeeded in making a gorgeous modern skyscraper to which my picture doesn't do justice.

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Finally, after a long and exhausting day, it's time to go home.

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Our fourth day of vacation was spent at the Palatine Park District's Family Aquatic Center formerly known as Community Pool where I used to take my day campers every day from 1:00 to 3:00 pm when I was a day camp counselor and site director. Of course, back then, it was just a pool and not a whole "aquatic center."

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Drew jumping through the waterfall while doing a cannonball.

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Will bravely jumping through the waterfall.

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It looks like Will was eaten by a frog!

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Will splashing down at the bottom of the frog slide.

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Drew coming down the end of the fast water slide.

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Drew coming down the end of the very disorienting curvy water slide.

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Will was the master of the rock slide.

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Landon was, again, not feeling well and enjoyed the comfort of Mama's and Aunt Donelda's arms most of the day. The poor guy wanted absolutely nothing to do with the water.

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No doubt a nightmare for all the workers who keep the pool and deck spotless, the boys really enjoyed playing in the sand pit.

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Will was in charge of water utilization and supplies and general maintenance of the various bodies of water and waterways.

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While Drew handled the major excavation and terraforming projects. It was another great and exhausting day.

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The third day of our vacation was spent at the Chicago Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.

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If you take in all the activities, you can easily spend a whole day there. I think we only missed one major activity and we were there about six hours. The boys had a great time and very much want to go back some day. Hit the jump for 46 photos showing all the ways to have fun at the Legoland Discovery Center!

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First up was the Miniland Chicago made with nearly 1.5 million Lego bricks. The back row in this picture from left to right are the CNA Center (red), the Sears Tower/Willis Tower (black), the Chase Tower (white), 10 LaSalle (blue), the Richard J. Daley Center (rust), the Aon Tower/Amoco Building (white), Two Prudential Plaza (blue stripe), and the Smurfit-Stone Building (diamond).

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In this photo are the Lake Point Tower (black curved), the Wrigley Building (white front), the Onterie Center (white), City Place (red), Water Tower Place (white), the John Hancock Center (tall black), Holy Name Cathedral (farthest right), the Chicago Water Tower and the Contemporary Art Museum (small black).

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Another shot of the CNA Center (red), the Sears Tower/Willis Tower (black), the Chase Tower (white), 10 LaSalle (blue), the Richard J. Daley Center (rust) and the Chicago Cultural Center (right foreground). The Lego Sears Tower required the most bricks to build: 125,860!

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The Lego John Hancock Center.

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In back is the double-decker bascule Wells Street Bridge built in 1922 with the lower deck carrying three lanes of vehicular traffic south over the Chicago River with sidewalks on both sides and the upper deck carrying the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Brown and Purple lines of Chicago's famed elevated "L" trains.

In front is the Michigan Avenue Bridge (officially DuSable Bridge) completed in 1920 which is a fixed trunnion bascule bridge or Chicago style bascule bridge which carries vehicular and pedestrian traffic on two levels.

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The Lego Wrigley Building.

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The Lego Chicago Water Tower.

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Lego technically just calls this a "church" but it most closely resembles the Chicago Holy name Cathedral, although the tall turret would have to be switched to the right side. Notice that the picture is darker than the others and you can see the windows lit up. This is because the whole Chicago Miniland skyline slowly rotates between daytime and night time.

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Chicago's number one tourist attraction Lego Navy Pier is a mile long pier built in 1916 which is a popular launching point for many sightseeing boat tours and has a 150 foot Ferris wheel, an IMAX theater, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Amazing Chicago's Funhouse Maze, the Chicago Children's Museum, the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows and other attractions.

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A Lego tiger in the Jungle Adventure.

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Will, Landon and Drew with the Lego tiger.

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A Lego monkey just hanging around.

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Lego monkeys.

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A Lego tiger cub on his back.

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Lego Indiana Jones.

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A giant Lego spider.

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The boys with Lego Batman.

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The crime fighting duo of Daddy and Batman.

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Lego President Obama. Drew shows exactly what we think of this man.

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I couldn't resist, it was an instinctual reaction...and very cathartic.

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The first of several opportunities to do some Lego building.

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The always creative Will whipped up a Lego robot.

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At this point we all hopped on the Lego Dragon Quest ride which took us past many animated Lego characters including this royal court.

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Uh oh! It looks like the Lego dragon is breaking out.

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The giant Lego dragon which actually breathed fire!

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Drew with his head in a Lego lion.

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Will with his head in a Lego lion.

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Landon with his head in a Lego lion.

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The Lego Factory is the only thing we didn't get to experience.

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We were able to see two different short movies from Lego Studios.

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The two movies we saw were in "4D." That's 3D along with wind, rain, lightning and even snow bursting into the auditorium!

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The boys with Lego Harry Potter.

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The boys with Lego Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter.

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Mama and Landon wave from the Legoland Technicycle ride with Will and Drew in the background.

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Will and Drew on the Technicycle ride. As Drew's expression shows, the ride was more oriented towards the littler folk.

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The boys and Lego Bob the Builder.

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The boys took a class where they built a model Sears Tower from individual Lego bricks. Landon got a little help from Mama.

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Finally, it was off to some serious Lego car building limited only by our imaginations.

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The Lego cars start to take shape.

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There were multiple ramps of differing lengths and angles to race your Lego cars down, all which curved up at the end to shoot the cars back into the parts bin.

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Will (and Drew) had the greatest time sending their creations down the ramps and launching them into the air only to ultimately crash (unless you caught them at the end).

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The boys befriended a really sweet young girl who helped them explore the creations they made together.

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There was even a race track with an electronic countdown timer and release mechanism for serious Lego car racing.

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Saving the best for last, a Lego Darth Vader and Lego R2D2 surprised us on the way out.

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Lego Einstein in the lobby.

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Time for a rest with the dozing Lego man on our way out of the store. As you can see, we had an amazing time!

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Perhaps growing up in Chicago, home of the Sears Tower (don't call it the Willis Tower around me), I am more interested in tall buildings than the average person. The Sears Tower was completed in 1973 when I was seven years old. It was the tallest building in the world until recently and remains the second tallest in several categories. It was always a source of pride and fascination.

With this background I thought it very important that our boys make a trip to Oklahoma City to see the Devon Tower under construction. I think it will be neat when they are older to remember back and see pictures of themselves there while it was still under construction.

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We parked by the Oklahoma County Courthouse and, after playing in small fountain for a while, we took this photo looking at the north side of the Devon Tower. "Go Thunder!" refers to the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team who are currently doing well in the playoffs.

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This is looking at the south side of the Devon Tower taken from the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge. We walked all around the Devon Tower, taking pictures and seeing every angle of the construction.

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Finally, this photo was taken looking at the west side of the Devon Tower. Despite being Saturday, we watched the elevators and cranes take materials to the top non-stop. They were working on the ceiling of the 44th/floor of the 45th story. In a few years, we'll make a trip back and wonder at the tallest building in Oklahoma and remember back to when we saw it under construction.

See my first post with more information about the Devon Tower. And, another post with more construction and aerial photos.

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Work took me to Oklahoma City today and it was a beautiful day for photographing, even if it was just with an iPhone. The Devon Tower continues to grow, now about 43 of its soon to be 50 floors. For comparison, take a look at the photos I took of the Devon Tower in November of 2010.

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Looking northwest.

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Looking north-northwest.

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Looking south from atop a nine floor parking garage.

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Looking west.

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This photo and the next are from Oklahoma City's April "What's Going on Downtown?" presentation. The Myriad Gardens are in the foreground.

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Note the six-story glass rotunda and glass facade "podium building" to the left of the Devon Tower along with more parking garage behind. The entire site is atop the parking garage I used to park in everyday when I worked in downtown Oklahoma City from 1993 to 1998.

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Mar 13 2011

Trip to Kansas City

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This weekend we all drove up to Kansas City to visit the cousins. On the way up we stopped for a break as a relatively new rest stop 40 miles north of the Oklahoma/Kansas border on 169 where it crosses 400, North of Coffeyville, Sourth of Chanute. The caretaker, who was in the process of keeping the facilities spotless, mentioned that he had raised the flags that morning and that he thought they looked pretty good. I couldn't agree more.

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I took this while we were waiting for a table at Houston's on the Plaza in Kansas City. It is already one of my favorite pictures. At first glimpse, it doesn't look like much. But, on closer examination, you can see so many different layers which are combined with the contrasting vertical and horizontal elements. You can see inside the restaurant (through Landon and me), the horizontal blinds with their vertical ladders are just inside the glass, the Houston's logo on the glass, Landon and me on the sidewalk, parked cars on the street, a motion blurred SUV next and buildings in the background. Additionally, there are the contrasting brick patters between the sidewalk and the building across the street along with the six circles scattered throughout the image. I think it's a really interesting composition.

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The cousins after a terrific lunch: Drew (7), Landon (22 months), cousin Gabe (2), Will (4 1/2) and cousin Gillian (3 1/2).

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Today's day trip for work took me to Bartlesville, OK, and the "famous" American Liberty Bison.

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Jan 26 2011

Lady Justice

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Today I traveled to Pittsburg County and the city of McAlester where I ran into Lady Liberty again. This bronze beauty completes my Lady Trifecta! See my prior Lady Justice and Lady Liberty.

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Dec 11 2010

Bouncy Barn

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A neighbor's son had his birthday party at Bouncy Barn today. Drew and Will had a blast bouncing and playing in the various inflatables. But, the real surprise of the day was Landon.

Landon was a late walker, not achieving the milestone until about 15 months. But, he has far surpassed his brothers in the important realm of bouncy-ladder climbing, accomplishing in months what the other two took years to either physically master or mentally overcome. Having two older brothers has really pushed Landon along as he fearlessly undertakes whatever task is necessary in order to keep up.

Side note: shooting the video was a bit of a challenge given the indoor lighting and shooting through the inflatable's screen, even through two screens at one point. But, the video came out surprisingly good. (Vimeo version after the jump.)

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Nov 10 2010

Devon Tower

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This is the Devon Tower, a 50 story 850 foot/259 meter skyscraper being build in downtown Oklahoma City which will be the new home of the Devon Energy Corporation. The tower is the tallest building under construction West of the Mississippi River and, upon completion, will be the 10th tallest building West of the Mississippi River and the 31st tallest building in the U.S. (The rankings are as best as I can tell as there is much heated debate as to what defines a building and what is included, roof, spire, tower, etc.)

OKCTalk has a 24-hour construction cam and a great forum thread devoted to the Devon Tower.

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I was in Oklahoma City today for a hearing and took these three pictures. For this one I am southeast of the tower looking northwest at it as I drove into downtown.

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I took this one after my hearing from the roof of a parking lot where I was north and a little west looking south and a little east.

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Finally, on my way out of downtown, I took this one looking almost directly east.

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The project encompasses a significant addition to a parking garage, a six-story podium building extending west, a six-story glass rotunda and the Devon Tower itself. Google Earth already has build in Oklahoma City and some images can be seen at RezoneOKC.

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The glass rotunda. The artist renderings show this as a popular meeting place filled with people. I think it is a great addition but I can easily see it as being barren and sterile. I will be very interested in seeing what kind of public access the rotunda and tower will have.

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Looking up at the Devon Tower from the glass rotunda.

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A comparison of the completed Devon Tower and the, currently tallest building in Oklahoma, Williams Center now officially called the BOK Tower. The terrific Skyscraper Page has a graphical comparison of Oklahoma's tallest buildings.

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Oct 8 2010

Borg Cube

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The Borg Cube which assimilated me almost nine years ago. Who'd have thought assimilating alien species and worlds throughout the universe would leave behind such a wake of litigation to defend?

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Oct 6 2010

Lady Liberty

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I spent two days in Norman this week with Lady Liberty. I just need one more Lady statue for a trifecta.

I was in Norman working on this, note the last sentence of the article.

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Jul 20 2010

Oklahoma Capitol Dome

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Yesterday during my trip across the state, I had to stop at the State Capitol. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph the beautiful interior of the Capitol dome. The photo is so perfectly centered and sharp because I put the iphone on the floor and used a timer to take the photo. This of course created the nice scene of me stepping over the ropes cordoning off the state seal on the center of the rotunda floor and planting an electronic devise on the floor which immediately began beeping.

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A little closer.

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Full resolution, zero resizing.

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Jul 19 2010

My Jealous Mistress

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My jealous mistress, seems like I spend more time with her than my family. She's not very modest...cover yourself up Lady J. This Lady Justice is found in the Canadian County Courthouse in El Reno, Oklahoma.

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Oct 31 2009

Pumpkin Town 2009

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Because we didn't have enough going on today with the Tulsa Run this morning and Halloween this evening, we made our annual trip to Pumpkin Town in between.

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Will, Landon and Drew took a moment to pose with the fall scenery before heading out to enjoy the various activities. Landon saw it as an opportunity to catch up on some sleep.

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After pulling each other around, Will and Drew enjoyed a wagon ride together.

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Will and Drew shared the title of King of the World atop a hay bale stack. More after the jump...

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Will and Drew warmed up on some wooden horses before taking on the real thing.

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Will and Drew riding the ponies.

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One of the most looked-forward to activities is always the inflatable slide. There was no problem for anyone climbing up this year.

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Apparently, we've gown tired of sliding down the "normal" way as Drew and Will quickly experimented with alternate methods of descent. Drew was more methodical in trying out variations of forward and backward while Will brazenly thew himself randomly down the slide with little regard for the consequences. Will described his sideways tumbling method, caught here, as "crazy!"

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Thanks to all the I'm-Smarter-Than-Everyone-Else-And-The-Rules-Don't-Apply-To-Me-So-_ _ _ _-You people who were visiting the St. Louis Gateway Arch and illegally parking in the completely full Old Cathedral parking lot yesterday, I got the opportunity to walk past the Arch and take some pictures of St. Louis' famous Gateway to the West.

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The wrinkles in the 1/4 inch exterior stainless steel plates are readily visible and began to appear just months after construction was completed.

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The inner shell of the Arch is carbon steel, while the outer skin is stainless steel. The stainless steel has a 50% greater coefficient of thermal expansion than the carbon steel. When heated by the sun, the massive panels of stainless steel which were perfectly flat on the ground, buckle predictably, high on the arch. The effect is cosmetic only and does not affect the structural integrity of the 630 foot tall catenary arch.

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Apr 16 2009

Tulsa Zoo Field Trip

Today I was fortunate enough to be able to take off work and go with Drew's class to the Tulsa Zoo for a field trip. Below are some of the animals we got to see...from far away...and close up:

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The big cats are always my favorites. We were fortunate to catch this proud lion walking around. Later he even roared for us, just so there was no confusion who was the king of the jungle...or, in this case the Tulsa Zoo.

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The lion close up.

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The Amur Tiger was keeping a close watch on everything from a comfortable position in the shade. I don't think there's a more beautiful wild animal than a tiger.

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The Amur Tiger close up.

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The Spectacled Bear took some time out of his busy schedule of eating and napping to pose for the camera.

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The Spectacled Bear close up.

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This Chimpanzee looks like he's seen it all. He was completely unfazed by some little chimpanzee's flying around their habitat. He was content to slowly munch on his snack.

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The Chimpanzee close up.

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This White Rhinoceros was doing some grazing when we spotted him.

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The White Rhinoceros close up.

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This seal was taking it easy today, lounging around in the shade while still enjoying the warm sun on his face.

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The seal close up.

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We caught this African Penguin right before he took the plunge into the water.

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The African Penguin close up.

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As always, the American Flamingo doing what it does best, standing around.

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The American Flamingo close up.

Click on "Continue reading" to see pics of Drew, me, his pre-k class and Drew almost being eaten by a lion!

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Drew and me on the train at the start of our day at the zoo.

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Drew almost being eaten by a lion!

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A handsome young boy and a beautiful background of blooming spring trees and daddy composes the most boring picture in the world...bad photographer, bad.

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Besides being the only child with a face, Drew tends to stand out a little from the rest of his class. (Actually, Drew's about the same height as the boy on the far left.)

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Drew celebrated his friend Aidan's birthday today at SSB Kids! in Broken Arrow. It's a 20,000 square foot multi-sport center which was set up with enough inflatables, running, jumping and climbing activities, obstacle courses and foam pits to tire out the most energetic five year-old.

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A very attentive staff kept the kids well organized and having constant safe fun. I asked Drew what he liked the best and he said, "All of it."

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Drew showed no hesitation completing the different obstacle courses available. It was really a nice facility which I hope we get to go back to in the near future.

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Nov 9 2008

Chuck E. Cheese's

Today, we all went with Aunt Donelda to Chuck E. Cheese's to play games.

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Drew was a champion Johnny Apple Speed player while Will offered encouragement.

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Both Drew and Will enjoyed playing air hockey. Drew took advantage of Will's easy distractibility to win two games in a row.

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Will's favorite game was the space alien trackball race.

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Today, Drew, Will, Mama, Ma and Pa went to the Tulsa State Fair. Drew and Will are feeding a baby bison.

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This photo begs for a caption contest. I'm not sure who's behind the bars, the sheep or Will.

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Drew is a long-time pony rider and had no trouble keeping his steed under control.

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Will absolutely loved riding the ponies and Pa was always nearby to keep things safe.

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Will was quite the flying saucer driver. All was well until he put his foot to the floor...

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When things sped up, Drew did all he could to keep from crushing his little brother. Knowing that the smallest rider will likely get the most enjoyment out "steering," wouldn't you design the ride so that the steering wheel was on the left to avoid big rider squishing little rider?

Rest easy though, this year the State of Oklahoma tested all ride operators on the proper operation of the rides they were operating and, under these stringent safety examinations, the operators had to score...I'm not making this up...70 percent. So, of course, it was a huge shock when a car on the kids' ride The Rio Grande Train went off the tracks injuring three children.

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Jun 25 2008

Tulsa Zoo Trip

Mary, Drew, Will and their friends Miss Cindy, Abigail, Nathan, and Adam all went to the Tulsa Zoo this week.

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The first exhibit was the wild monkeys...a scarier group of simians I've never seen.

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Drew and Will rode the carousel. Drew rode an elephant while Will rode a sea lion. More pics of the zoo adventure after the jump.

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Some of the animals weren't out in the mid-day heat, but the black bear didn't seem bothered as he strode around his habitat.

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The flamingos did what flamingos do best...stand around, sometimes on one foot.

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The American alligators maintained their cool swimming around.

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One of Mama's favorite's exhibits was the poisonous frogs. This is the Blue Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates Azureus).

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Next, was the Yellow-Banded Poison Frog (Dendrobates Leucomelas) and the Green and Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates Auratus).

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Finally, all the little monkeys climbed aboard the Tulsa Zoo Express for a ride.

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Oct 27 2007

Pumpkin Town 2007

Halloween is fast approaching so it was time yesterday to make the annual visit to Pumpkin Town.

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Drew and Will paused momentarily for a photo before heading off to more fun activities. The picture was taken under a large tent which produced the worst lighting, only after many adjustments in Photoshop are the boys even recognizable. The best displays are under the tent, but maybe next year the "group" photo will be outside.

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The first thing Drew wanted to do was the inflatable slide, he was so excited. Let's just say it wasn't like last year's fun slide. This was Mount Kilimanjaro. First, just getting up to the top was quite a task, there were no steps to speak of just a strap-ladder that was very difficult to climb. Next, the slide was awfully steep. Drew commented at the top, "I don't know about this!" What looked like fun from the ground turned out to be a little too scary on the way down.

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Will's Great-Grandfather was a farmer and I think he just may have a little bit of Spiv in him.

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Despite my urgings to the contrary, Drew insisted the pumpkins were too heavy to lift.

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Will picked a big one for his first attempt in the pumpkin lifting contest. He's going to have to wait a few more years before he can get that one off the ground.

Drew also got to ride a pony named Buster and both boys played in a hay fort, rode around in a wagon and other fun activities. Pumpkin town is always a fall favorite.

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While at Aunt Michelle and Uncle Matt's, Michelle, Gillian, Mary, Drew and Will got to go to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, Kansas. Established in 1978, the Farmstead was designed to depict a turn of the century farm and the promotion of family values. The beautiful and diverse park was renamed in 1985 in honor of Overland Park police officer Deanna Rose.

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Michell and Gillian take a milk break while Will relaxes in his travel stroller.

729-farmstead-3.jpgDrew really enjoyed the 1900s one-room schoolhouse and writing on a slate tablet. Other attractions include a 5,000 square foot dairy barn, an Indian encampment with a 600 log earthen lodge filled with artifacts and furs surrounded by tepees, a nature trail with a butterfly garden, chime garden and repose area, a Johnson County Master Gardeners area and a prairie playground.

Other activities at the Farmstead include pony and horse drawn wagon rides, a fishing pond, stream mining, goat bottle feeding and making schoolhouse crafts.



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Will in the dairy barn pointing to a cow, something he doesn't get to see every day.

Click "Continue reading" to see selection of animals the kids got to see.

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Jan 19 2007

OADC Winter Meeting

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My firm attended this years OADC (Oklahoma Association of Defense Counsel) winter meeting tonight at the Gaillardia Country Club in Oklahoma City.

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Dinner was really good for such a large crowd and included crab cake appetizers which Mary said were the best she'd ever had, Caesar's salad, beef and salmon fillets and cheesecake for dessert.

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Afterward everyone got their groove on. Click on "continue reading" for a view of the party bus ride home.

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We had so many people attending, about a dozen, that the firm provided a limo-bus for round trip between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. It was a great idea and really allowed everyone to relax, enjoy each other's company and forget about the recent bad weather.

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Last week we all attended the opening night of a co-worker's daughters exhibit at the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery.

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The event was very well attended and equally received. It was Will's first art exhibit. Drew was very impressed and liked the ceramic cricket cages the best.

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My co-worker's daughter created all the ceramic pieces. She describes her work as focusing on the overlooked beauty of natural objects and the female form. She also paints which was more of the focus of a previous exhbit.

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Over Christmas we got together with my college roommate, Jon Platt, and his family. He had the terrific idea of getting our families together at the Chicago Botanical Garden where they had on display the Wonderland Express miniature train exhibit.

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The 10,000 square foot exhibit featured 750,000 twinkling lights, 75 miniature Chicago landmarks handcrafted from all natural materials and 9 different model trains.

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The landmarks included all the famous buildings Chicago is known for as well as hidden gems such as a tiny Mrs. O'Leary's cow, Sue the T-Rex and a Michael Jordan statue.

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The trains ran over bridges, under trestles, past waterfalls and included a variety of passenger and freight trains with steam and diesel engines.

Click on "continue reading" for more pictures of the grounds, wildlife, sculptures and family.

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Despite being the "off season" the gardens were very beautiful. The chilly weather also meant there were almost no other people which made the stroll through the gardens that much more peaceful and enjoyable.

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This is a view of the very beautiful Japanese Garden.

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I couldn't help but take a number of reflection shots. In the middle of the last one is the Memorial Bell Tower which features 40 bronze bells cast in Holland. It is one of very few hand-played carillons in the nation and very much reminded these University of Illinois grads of the Altgeld Hall Tower bells.

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These are balls of Christmas lights which are quite spectacular lit up at night.

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On the left is the top of the Guardian, by Simon Verity (English b. 1945), created in 1992 of Minnesota limestone, Arizona jasper, Arkansas quartz and Portuguese copper. On the right is the Composition in Stainless Steel #1 created in 1985 by Gidon Graetz (Israeli b. 1929).

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This is the bronze sculpture of Carolus Linnaeus created in 1982 by Robert Berks (American b. 1922). Linnaeus (1707-1778) was a Swedish physician and father of modern taxonomy who established binomial nomenclature, the international system of naming plants and animals that is still in use today with modification.

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There were plenty of ducks and geese taking advantage of the mild conditions.

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Catherine and Drew called a truce to King-of-the-Hill atop a rock with the inscription: "May the peace of this garden bring you contentment."

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Thanks to the ever prepared Eagle Scout Jon, we were able to travel in style in one of their double strollers. Unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures of Charles and Harrison...they're fast!

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The Danz's at the Chicago Botanical Garden.

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Nov 6 2006

Trip to the Farm

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Today, Ma Danz, Aunt Donelda, Mary, Drew and Will traveled to Goltry, Oklahoma, to see friends, relatives and the family farm where Ma Danz grew up. Everyone got to see Will for the first time while Drew got up close and personal feeding horses and cows.

I can still vividly remember the water that used to come out of that windmill back in the 70s. To me all waters taste the same, bottled, tap or anything else...at best it won't have any flavor or aroma. But, the water that came out of that windmill straight from the ground was amazing, it was incredibly cold and tasted so good...I can't describe it and I've never had anything like it since.

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October means it's time for the annual trip to Pumpkin Town to get some pumpkins for Halloween. Drew and Will paused momentarily before heading on to more fun activities...

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As you can see, the highlight of the day was the inflatable slide and the pony ride. Happy Halloween!

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Oct 6 2006

Tulsa State Fair

529-tulsa-state-fair.pngThis week, Mary, Drew, Will, Ma and Pa went to the Tulsa State Fair. I'm glad Ma and Pa got to go and enjoy the fair with the boys while I was at work. Otherwise, if I had gone, I'd have been my usual Drew/Will hog and they would have been relegated to spectators.



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There was lots to do. Drew is especially proud of the tower he built. And, although the picture doesn't really show it, Drew was very excited about riding the ponies and ran right up them to get a ride. I shouldn't be surprised, last October Drew showed that he was a natural bucking bronco rider.

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Drew was not at all excited about the petting zoo and announced early on, "I'm ready to see something else." Everything changed when he discovered that he could feed the animals. As a result, for Drew, this was the highlight of the day.

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Mary and Drew show their bravery as they pose for a photo with Macaws on their shoulders. Mary looks like she's having a good time, but Drew's not about to take his eyes off his new friend. I'm amazed by how old Drew looks in this picture...he's only two! Maybe it's the hat...no more baseball hats...I want my two-year old back!

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447-drew-walking.jpgMary took a day trip out of town today for one of her volunteer activities so Drew and I had a boys day out at La Fortune Park.

The first thing we did was take a three mile stroll on the track that goes around the park. Drew walked about half and rode in the stroller about half. The little guy surprised me at how much he walked and even ran! I think seeing everyone else jogging made him want to jog too.



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There are enough twists, turns, scenery and things going on, from construction to sports, to see that Drew never got bored. Every few minutes we'd stop for a second to watch an activity or to take a closer look at something.

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We got to see people playing golf, baseball, tennis, frisbee, swimming and, of course running and walking. We also saw lots of birds, squirrels, ducks geese and dogs.

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At the end of our walk, we wound up at the playgrounds. The park is nice in that it has different age appropriate equipment areas. Even better, the equipment was well shaded. Drew had a great time climbing, sliding, swinging and just exploring.

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Apr 23 2006

Sesame Street Live

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Today we joined the ranks of 46 million other people and saw Sesame Street Live. Drew had a great time seeing all his favorite Sesame Street characters live on stage. The show was all about Super Grover who had lost his superness.

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The letter of the day was "K." The number of the day was "1" but at the Number of the Day Gym they weren't getting much exercise doing just one repetition so the number "0" joined in so they could do "10" repetitions. We learned about sometime foods, anytime foods and eating foods of different colors. We also learned about the importance of napping, exercise and good hygiene all with the help of the singing and dancing Sesame Street gang. With all the lessons learned, Super Grover was able to get his superness back!

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These are the first two photos of a sampling from the parade I've posted here. They were taken curbside along Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., during the 4th of July, 2005 Independence Day Parade. We were ideally located across from the Environmental Protection Agency, in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center, between two concrete planters so that we wouldn't be squashed by the crowd. Many participants in the two hour long parade have been omitted, but what is shown is in the correct order.

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As is evident from the photo, we watched 4th of July fireworks on the Mall in Washington D.C. Click "continue reading" for two more photos.

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227oklahomatease.jpgA 1000 points to anyone who can correctly guess where this picture was taken.

Of course, the points don't matter, just like the Constitution doesn't matter to a liberal judge making a ruling.

[Update...July 5, 2005]

228wwiimemorial.jpgAND THE WINNER IS...Keith Eubanks of Voice Potential who correctly guessed or, more accurately, knew that the "Oklahoma" was from the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Keith spent a few hours at the memorial the week after it opened on April 29, 2004, and recalled its details so well that he was able to recognize it from the little teaser photograph.

So...Mary, Drew and I just got home after spending the 4th of July weekend in Washington, D.C. After a lot of sight seeing, we saw the Independence Day Parade from curb-side seats on Constitution Avenue and were on the Mall for fireworks. Needless to say, we had an amazing time and fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine (being in D.C. on the 4th). Pictures will be posted in the following days.

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This is my first effort at taking and stitching together panoramic photos. While not perfect, they turned out better than I imagined and really help to recreate the scene better than individual photos. (Click on the pictures to open the full size panoramas in a new window.)

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The first panorama was taken from San Francisco's Embarcadero Waterfront looking north out into the San Francisco Bay. The Golden Gate Bridge is on the left and Alcatraz Island is on the right.

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The second panorama was taken from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area just on the other side of the bridge looking east and south out into the San Francisco Bay. Angel Island State Park is on the left followed across to the right by open bay with Oakland in the background and then in quick succession, Alcatraz Island, the Oakland side of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island, the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge, downtown San Francisco, more of San Francisco, Sutro Tower and finally the Golden Gate Bridge on the far right.

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The third panorama was taken from the northwestern side of San Francisco. On the left is the Dutch Windmill in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden which houses a pumping station which irrigates Golden Gate Park. Looking south there is a long stretch of beach at low tide and finally looking west out in the Pacific Ocean you can see the Seal Rocks on the far right which are swarming with sea lions.

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Continuing on with pictures from our recent trip to San Francisco, click on "continue reading" to see the best of our non-Golden Gate pictures.

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As we sat on a park bench along the Embarcadero Waterfront looking north out on the San Francisco Bay, on our left was the Golden Gate Bridge and a little to the right was Alcatraz Island, known as "The Rock." Originally a defensive fortress designed by the U.S. Army to protect the city and bay in 1853. It started to receive Civil War prisoners in 1861.

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In 1934 the U.S. Army pulled out and the island was converted into a federal ultra maximum security penitentiary and eventual home of such infamous prisoners as Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Robert Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz."

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To our far right, looking out into the bay, was the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, commonly known as the Bay Bridge. The bridge has two major segments which connect Yerba Buena Island with each shore. The dirt and rock excavated to create the Yerba Buena Tunnel was used to create the artificial Treasure Island which is connected to Yerba Buena Island. The pictures here are of the western segment terminating in San Francisco which consists of two suspension bridges with a central anchorage. The eastern span terminating in Oakland consists of a truss causeway, five medium span truss bridges and a double tower cantilever span.

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Opened in 1936 after three years of construction, the Bay Bridge now carries 280,000 vehicles every day along its total length of 8.4 miles. The bridge has five westbound lanes on an upper deck and five eastbound lanes on a lower deck. The 1989 Loma Prieta (World Series) earthquake caused a section of the upper lanes to collapse.

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In the foreground is the "Cupid's Span" fiberglass sculpture, created by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, located in Rincon Park. The sculpture and the park were donated to the City of San Francisco by Donald and Doris Fisher owners of the retailer Gap, Inc. which they founded in San Francisco in 1969. On the right is the Ferry Building Clock Tower.

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Coit Tower was build in 1933 at the summit of Telegraph Hill as a monument to San Francisco's volunteer firefighters. Legend says that the 210 foot tower's fluted walls and porticoed observation deck were made to resemble the nozzle of a firehose, but its architect Arthur Brown insisted that was not his intention.

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The eccentric Lillie Hitchcock Coit left $100,000 to the city of San Francisco for beautification of the city upon her death in 1929. Having had a life-long obsession with fires and firefighters, the tower to commemorate the city's volunteer firefighters seemed appropriate.

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Located off the northwest corner of San Francisco near the historic Cliff House and 400 feet into the Pacific Ocean, Seal Rocks have long been a safe haven for sea lions. For ten months of the year sea lions would congregate here, sunning themselves on the rocks, playing in the surf, and barking boisterously the whole time which can be quite eerie when everything is covered in thick fog.

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From late June through August, the sea lions take some time off, and head south to the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara to breed, but never fail to return when autumn arrives. Since the 1989 earthquake, however, the sea lions have added the more protected Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf to the places they call home.

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The Dutch Windmill, built in 1902 and restored in 1981, located in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, named in 1962 for the late queen of the Netherlands, houses a pumping station which irrigates Golden Gate Park.

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In 1967, the Summer of Love put the dilapidated San Francisco neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury forever in the history books as the epicenter of the anti-establishment hippie movement which sought peace, love, understanding...and drugs. Haight-Ashbury was also the home to the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane. (I illegally parked our car, hopped out, took some photos, and got the heck out of there as fast as I could out of fear that I might have my membership in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy revoked.)

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San Francisco's Alamo Square is lined with Victorian houses including the most famous "Six Sisters" or "Painted Ladies." They were built in the mid-1890s by developer Matthew Kavanaugh in an elaborate Queen Anne style and are painted in multiple colors to draw attention to the elements of the design.

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The Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest and most recognizable skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline, soars 853 feet into the air and consists of forty-eight stories topped by a hollow, illuminated, 212 foot spire. It was designed by architect William Pereira and was completed in 1972 after being downsized from its planned fifty-five stories and 1000 foot height after locals...doing what they do best and often...protested what they vulgarly called "Pereira's Prick" as being too big, flashy and corporate.

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Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Crookedest Street in the World," Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets on Russian Hill contains eight sharp turns or switchbacks. The design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry and instituted in 1922, was born out of necessity in order to reduce the hill's natural twenty-seven degree slope which was too steep for most vehicles to climb and a serious hazard to pedestrians to a more reasonable sixteen degree incline.

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After witnessing brutal accidents involving a teams of horses falling and sliding on their sides, pulled by their cargo, down San Francisco's notorious hills, Scottish inventor Andrew Hallidie designed and built the first cable car system which was successfully debuted on August 1, 1873. So successful was the system that allowed expansion to previously impractical areas of the city that by the 1906 earthquake the city had almost 600 cable cars running along 110 miles of track.

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Today, San Francisco's cable car fleet consists of forty-four cars of which as many as twenty-seven may be operating at any given time. There are now just ten miles of track consisting of three separate lines. Despite its reduced size, the system carries nearly 36,000 passengers daily for an annual total of thirteen million. These photos are from the Powell-Hyde Line at the Powell Street turntable at Hallidie Plaza.

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The ornate Chinatown Gateway, also known as "Dragon's Gate," was designed by Clayton Lee in 1970 and serves as the main portal to San Francisco's Chinatown.

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The iconic green tiled structure heralds the entrance to Grant Avenue, Chinatown's bustling center of tourism.

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San Francisco's National Maritime Museum with a passing cruise ship in the background.

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Just some row houses along the Embarcadero Waterfront that I thought were attractive and which rounds out my twenty pictures from San Francisco.

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Continuing on with pictures from our recent trip to Napa Valley and San Francisco, here is a snap of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Total Bridge Length: 8981 feet (1.7 miles)
Suspended Length: 6450 feet (1.2 miles)
Center Span Length: 4200 feet (0.8 miles)
Width of Bridge: 90 feet, 6 lanes

Height of Towers From Water: 746 feet
Height of Towers Above Roadway: 500 feet

Length of Each Cable: 7650 feet
Diameter of Each Cable: 36 3/8 inches
Number of Wires (0.192 inches in diameter) in Each Cable: 27,572
Length of Wire Used in Both Cables: 80,000 miles

Vehicles Crossing Daily in 2003-04: 106,525
Vehicles Crossing in Year 2003-04: 38,881,684
Vehicles Crossing Since Opening: 1,805,663,417

Annual Toll Revenue in 2003-04: $84,419,500
Daily Toll Revenue in 2003-04: $231,286
Toll Revenue Since Opening: $1,349,053,056

Initial Cost: $33 million
Estimated Cost to Build Today: $1.2 Billion

Construction Started: January 5, 1933
Opened: May 27, 1937 to pedestrians, vehicles the next day

Six Seven more pictures we took of the Golden Gate Bridge can be found by clicking on "continue reading."

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Jun 15 2005

2005 OADC Meeting

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This year's OADC (Oklahoma Association of Defense Counsel) meeting was held in Napa Valley, California. The firm sponsored trip spanned five days and allowed us to take a full day to sightsee San Francisco (more pictures in the following days). It drizzled a little on us at the airport when we first arrived. But, after that, we had absolutely perfect weather, sunny and in the seventies.

The trip included Drew's first flight (actually, first four flights) which he made without shedding a tear. Everyone kept commenting about what a great traveler he was. He just goes with the flow. Drew also gets to add another state to his collection of travels (CA, CO, IL, KS, MO, OK and TX).

The events schedule was light which allowed for lots of wine tasting and tours. These pictures are from the Honig Vineyard & Winery.

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May 28 2005

Tulsa Zoo

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209familyzoo.jpgToday Drew, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa Youngman and Aunt Catherine went to the Tulsa Zoo. The Tulsa Zoo won the title of "America's Favorite Zoo" in a contest held last year by Microsoft in connection with their Zoo Tycoon 2 game. The Tulsa Zoo covers 78 acres and has nearly 1,500 animals from 436 different species.


During April through July, the Tulsa Zoo has two male koalas, Maloo and Coombah, on loan from the San Diego Zoo.

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Click on "continue reading" to see many more photos from the Tulsa Zoo.

Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

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Notice the keg next to the tiger? I think he had a late night!

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Mr. bear was less than a cooperative model.

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I caught Mr. Elephant in the middle of his dust shower.

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The giraffes have one of the largest, and tallest, habitats.

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The rhinos continued on with the day's theme: Rest & Sleep.

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The cheetahs, doing what cats do best.

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The chimpanzees were resting too.

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The meerkats were absolutely hilarious!

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The seals were in full non-stop swim mode.

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The African Penguins were quite active and looked like they were having fun.

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This guy is probably one of the oldest residents of the zoo.

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I caught Mr. Iguana smiling.

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A colorful little fellow.

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No animal just stands around as much as the flamingos.

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Of course, a Memorial Day Weekend trip to the zoo wouldn't be complete without, and there is no better way to finish this post than with, an American Bald Eagle.

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Apr 20 2005

Wewoka

I made a day trip to Wewoka, Oklahoma, for work last week. Population approximately 3500. It's a nice little town.

With regard to the topic I generally don't talk about here (i.e., work), lets just say that I was treated more fairly in Wewoka than I was in Oklahoma City last week or in one of Tulsa's neighboring cities this week.

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Apr 9 2005

Tulsa Driller

I was recently at the Tulsa Expo Center and snapped a few photos of the Tulsa Driller. Considering it was night, they came out much better than I thought they would. The one below is completely unretouched except for resizing it.

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For no particular reason, I snapped a few pictures from the office this week with my cell phone. Yale Avenue from 71st to 81st is being expanded from two lanes to five:

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This is the view of downtown Tulsa from my building:

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Finally, I was downtown for a meeting this week in the Mid-Continent Tower. It was overcast and rainy. On the left is the Williams Tower (where my better half used to work), officially Bank of Oklahoma Tower or BOk and on the right is the incredibly ugly WilTel building, formerly Williams Communications:

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Nov 13 2004

Bull Attack

We all recently visited the family farm which is rented out to a really nice family. They have a bull. For whatever reason, they "kept" the bull separate from the rest of the heard. Here is the bull in his pen:

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We wanted to get closer to the bull to get some photos and approached his pen in our usual loud boisterous family manner. The bull was less enthused about our visit. He tried jumping/rammed the gate on our right. Then he tried jumping/rammed the gate on our left. Then he succeeded in jumping/ramming through the gate on our right:

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The whole thing was pretty funny to us city-dwellers, but we were grateful the bull was not of the same temperament as my grandfather's bull, Abernathy. Abernathy would not have messed around with trying to flee but, rather, would have attacked through the fence that was in front of us and which would not have required two tries to knock down.

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We all recently went to the Tulsa Artists' Coalition Gallery to see the art work of the daughter of one of my coworkers. It was Drew's first art exhibit.

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The artist had on display a collection of her drawings, paintings and sculptures. Fortunately, Drew is still too young to have asked any why-are-the-ladies-naked type questions.

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Aug 12 2004

Pioneer Plaza

On a recent trip to Dallas, we visited Pioneer Plaza next to the Dallas Convention Center famous for its bronze statues of 40 longhorn cattle herded by 3 cowboys on horses created by artist Robert Summers.

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As the saying goes, if you're not first...the view is always the same.

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Jul 14 2004

Visited Countries

World66 lets you create maps of places you have visited (or any other listing such as places to which you ship products). Below is a map of the countries I have visited. You can also create maps for US States, Canadian Provinces and European Countries.

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If you can't tell, the countries highlighted in red are: Australia (visited), Denmark (visited), France (visited), Iran (visited), Mexico (visited), Mozambique (lived), Netherlands (lived), Norway (lived), Pakistan (visited), South Africa (visited), Sweden (visited), Thailand (lived), the United Kingdom (visited) and the United States (lived).

The only other country I've technically been to is Kenya on a flight stop over which I don't count as having visited since I never left the plane. My sister however, then still a child, ran off the plane into the airport--the little cheat--so I suppose she gets to count Kenya on her list.

While I'm on the topic, Lizard Point, has a nice geography quiz for identifying states and countries. (Europe is tough since the break up of the Soviet Union.)

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Jul 11 2004

Oklahoma Aquarium

On Friday, my work sponsored a night out at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks for all employees and their families.

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Be sure to "continue reading" for more photos and a shark video!

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Just click on the shark below to see the video:

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Jul 5 2004

Geja's Cafe

Last week I went to Chicago on business and got to spend a day with my mom and Donelda. The three of us, along with Sue and Harry, went downtown to Geja's Cafe for some fondue. The meal started out with a cheese board of Aged Wisconsin Swiss, Aged Wisconsin Cheddar, French Brie, Swiss Gruyère, Italian Bel Paese and Dutch Edam along with rye bread, apple slices, grapes and the house merlot. Next came salad and cheese-fondue. Then the main course of chicken breast, beef tenderloin, jumbo Gulf shrimp, lobster tail and fresh vegetables all cooked in hot oil and dipped in a variety of sauces. Finally, flaming chocolate fondue for roasting a few marshmallows before dipping pound cake, apples, bananas, cherries, melons, pineapples and strawberries. After all that we just rolled ourselves home.

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The only thing that could have made the evening better was that it happened to be Geja's 39th Anniversary and the bill was 39% off the regular prices!

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Jun 25 2004

2004 OADC Meeting

Thanks to my employer, we all got to enjoy five days and four nights (really just four days and four nights) at the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas last week.

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Drew enjoyed the pillow chocolates but like a true Danz, he wasn't satisfied with just one.

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Drew wasn't much for keeping his sunglasses on.

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A lifeguard in training: working on the tan and getting thrown into the air.

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